By: Erika Axe
Anyone who missed this past weekend’s JCHS performance of “Shrek The Musical” definitely missed out on one of the best shows the school has put on. Featuring seniors Brendan Cullinane and Nicole Garamella and junior Dante Savenello in their respective roles as Shrek, Fiona and Donkey—this show gave the audience a chance to experience everything from fantastic prosthetics, impressive costuming, a full scale puppet dragon, and of course fantastic performances from the cast, crew and pit.
For anyone who hasn’t seen either the JCHS or Broadway production of Shrek, the musical definitely has its own flair and personality separate from the movie. Besides the obvious addition of a multitude of songs into the musical, live performances with real actors always give a much more personal experience. For example, the movie’s token villain, Lord Farquad, may certainly be funny on screen—but it paled in comparison to when the audience went hysterical for junior Kyle Elphick’s version of the villain who performed the entire show on his knees, including the dance numbers, to represent this characteristically short bad guy—who in this twist turns out to be the son of Snow White’s dwarf, Grumpy. The production also featured a full scale puppet dragon who was controlled through the coordination of multiple cast members and junior Erica Blanco who simultaneously voiced the loud and lonely dragon whose voice was unheard in the movie version of Shrek. With puppeteering reminiscent of the Cheshire Cat from the fall production of Alice in Wonderland, the school has, yet again, successfully used this new tool twice within the first year of using it. The show even featured a much smaller puppet in the form of Gingy, voiced by junior Regina Peters, whose iconic cookie-torture scene with Lord Farquad had the audience shrieking with laughter.
The set of the show itself was impressive in its own right. The entire show starts off with a larger-than-life storybook that Shrek opens up to introduce his family and younger self on the inside, and that Fiona briefly steals to present her backstory and younger self. Definitely unique compared to past sets, this show also featured the multi-tiered castle of Lord Farquad, who did a part of his song from the top of his castle looking down at all of his people. There was a lot of diverse set changing and movement as the sets changed from story book, to Shrek’s swamp home, to the woods, to the castle, to Fiona’s dragon guarded and lava filled castle, complete with a rickety wooden bridge that rises from the front of the stage, Fiona’s tower, open fields, and a cathedral that Fiona and Farquad’s wedding ceremony takes place in. While most of the crew, lead by senior stage manager Lora Krasteva, had their hands full with props and sets and lights, there were even more members of the crew behind stage, including professionals, who helped the actors with the impressive number of prosthetics and makeup that the cast wore for their various roles. Not to mention, many of the actors had to have their costumes and impressive makeup taken on and off multiple times for their varying roles and appearances. Shrek’s makeup alone has left actor Cullinane going to school slightly green multiple times during tech week.
This year’s production certainly veered off in ways that are completely unique and brand new in JCHS theatre, and Shrek certainly veers off from the usual show-within-a-show plot that has been seen in past performances, like “42 Street” and “Kiss Me Kate.” However, the show still retained the most valued parts of their past performances: their impressive talent, dedication, fantastic pit orchestra, the direction from the Modero family, and overall excitement and team bonding that all members of the theatre arts program shared. All those who went to see the show definitely got their money’s worth and more by sharing in their hard work and energy. In fact, the final 2pm Sunday performance was completely sold out and the cast was all able to experience performing in front of a full house.
And so, congratulations to the JCHS theatre arts program for putting on yet another fantastic show for our community to love!