Watertown High School music director Russell J. Faunce would be the first to admit he could resemble an ogre when directing school musicals as he pushes his students to do their best.
But for the winter high school show, Shrek the Musical, the only ogre at a recent rehearsal was on stage, in character, facing back at Mr. Faunce, who proclaimed that things were going smoothly in the high school musical kingdom.
Its all been really good, Mr. Faunce said. Its a show that is going to be really fun. I think its going to take the community by storm.
Shrek the Musical, with music by Jeanine Tesori and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, ran on Broadway from 2008 until 2010. It is based on the Oscar-winning animated film in which an unseemly ogre shows up to rescue a feisty princess.
The Watertown High School Select Choir students who are staging the musical became familiar with Shrek when the movie came out in 2001.
I loved the movie when I was little, said senior Austin C. Myers, who plays Donkey. If little me, as a 7-year-old, knew that years down the road that he was going to be the donkey, it would blow his mind.
Mr. Myers recalled previous Select Choir shows that were more serious, such as Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon and Anything Goes.
Its one of the first shows in a while thats really geared toward entertaining children, said Mr. Myers.
It pretty much follows the storyline of the first Shrek movie, said senior Jonathan L. White, who plays the main character. Shrek lives in a swamp. Lord Farquaad (played by senior Joshua G. Shannon) sends all these fairytale creatures there because hes banishing them from the kingdom. So Shrek goes to talk to Lord Farquaad.
Senior Meredith A. Griffin plays the ogre princess Fiona and senior Genny Wise plays the transformed, human Fiona.
I like that it follows the movies storyline so well, but I also like that you see parts of the story that you didnt know, like what Fiona did growing up in the tower, and life on the swamp and why Shrek was there at the beginning, said Miss Griffin. It just brings the story to life and its great for kids.
The show is co-directed by David Simmons, who also is the choreographer.
Miss Wise recalled that the Select Choirs fall show, Anything Goes, required lots of tap dancing, something that she struggled with. Shrek the Musical, Miss Wise said, has only one tap dancing number, which she is in.
But its coming along very well, she said.
Miss Wise taps to the song Morning Person.
Im not a morning person at all. Thats why they call it acting, I guess, she said, laughing.
Two students at H.T. Wiley Elementary School play Fiona as a child: sixth-grader Madilyn Eveleigh and fifth-grader Katelyn Decker.
Its great watching the older kids perform, said Katelyn. They are role models for us.
The two girls will split the role of the young Fiona, with Katelyn performing Thursday and Saturday nights and Madilyn performing Friday night and in the Saturday matinee.
I love my part, said Madilyn. As a young Fiona, I have a big singing part.
Songs in Shrek the Musical range from silly to serious. Mr. White said the biggest song for his character, Shrek, is Who Id Be, which is sung with Donkey and the ogre version of Fiona.
Its where Shrek opens up, not hiding his emotions, Mr. White said. He says this is what I want with my life and why Im upset because I think I cant achieve that.
Shreks situation in that moment, Mr. Austin said, reflects the serious side of the musical.
Although it is a comedy show, it does have that sort of didactic purpose, he said. It has a message that looks arent everything and that you should care about a persons personality and in the end, not judge people. Thats the bottom line of the show: We shouldnt judge people before we get to know them.