ILWACO — When the spring production of “Shrek the Musical” opens on Friday, April 15, director and music teacher Rachel Lake has very high expectations.
“This is going to be the greatest (IHS drama production) since ‘Grease!’” she said, referencing a production from about a decade ago. “Because of the level of the actors. The professionalism. The sets. It’s definitely something that should not be missed.”
The show, with book and lyrics by David Lindsay Abaire, and music by Jeanine Tesor, was originally produced for Broadway by DreamWorks Theatricals and Neal Street Productions. With that pedigree, Lake figured it was a good time to go all-out, renting professional sets and costumes.
“Because this is a broadway show I contacted other community groups that have done it and Upstart Crow (a performing arts studio in Eugene, Ore.) let us rent all of the sets and costumes they had just used for their production.”
It’s a pretty good financial payout to rent everything — not to mention the rights fees for the show itself — but Lake said it all shakes out in the end.
“The cost to build everything is more than what it cost to rent it,” she said, adding, “The community and parental support for the performances also recoups some of the expenditures.”
She said they are also featuring advertisements from local businesses in the play program to help offset costs. “We’re having huge community support for the show,” she said.
Lake said she is also hoping the show has a good turn out so that she can justify doing more of them, more often.
“The district allows the Ilwaco High School Drama Club to do musicals once every three years,” she explained. “But I’m trying to ask the school district to allow us to do it once every year in the spring, and then a traditional play in the winter. I believe I can prove that we can sustain a musical every year and also have a winter play, and grow the theater program at Ilwaco High School.”
“It’s a big step up from ‘Big Mike’” (a part Alec Bell played in a previous drama club production, “The Rockin’ Tale of Snow White”), said Bell said, who plays Shrek’s sidekick Donkey in the show. “It’s a lot more lines I have to learn! Miss Lake asked if I was ready and I said, ‘I think I am.’ But I forget stuff easily.”
The character of Donkey is one of the most iconic in the show, the comedy spark to Shrek’s deadpan curmudgeonry. Of course, the role also requires him to sing on stage.
“I’ve gotten used to it,” he said, after an extended pause. “I wouldn’t say I’m comfortable.”
Bell, however, shines during the number, “Travel Song,” where he constantly makes jokes during a road trip with Shrek.
“They’re going to the princesses keep, so they’re going to sing a song along the way,” he said. Bell added that he feels the comedic chemistry between him and Aaron Humber, who plays Shrek, is a solid one.
“We throw the ball back and forth,” he said, metaphorically. “During practices we pick on each other. I think we’ve got a good connection between us.”
Another key comedic character in the show is that of Pinocchio, played by Daylin Kemmer, complete with red lederhosen.
“You don’t have to sing in tune,” said Kemmer when asked about some of the better parts of playing the famous liar. “He’s got a really weird voice. I’ve got bits and pieces during songs (where he interjects lines).”
Kemmer shared in Lake’s enthusiasm for how the show is going to go, mostly.
“I think it’ll be good … I hope,” he said, with a laugh. His nervousness had more to do with himself than the rest of the cast though. “I have stage fright. I overthink it. But I get out there I’m like, ‘This is fine.’”
The play does differ from the movie of the same name. For those wanting a sneak peak at what to expect, the original Broadway stage production is available for viewing online at Netflix.
Shrek: Aaron Humber
Donkey: Alec Bell
Fiona: Hope Bellinger
Farquaad: Matt Warner
Dragon/Mama Bear: Kaylee Murray
Gingy: Seth Sontagg
Witch: Cat Amos
Wolf: Ben Brownlee
Teen Fiona/Elf: Cheyenne Bent
Young Fiona/Baby Bear: Arianna Bell
Pinocchio: Dayln Kemmer
Pig 1: Mariah Dunafon
Pig 2: Allyson Wagner
Pig 3: Kasey Bageant
Peter Pan: Zach Heiser
Ugly Duckling: Taylor Adams
Dwarf: Hailee Williams
April 15-17 and 22-24
Fridays 7 p.m., Saturdays 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., Sundays 2 p.m.
$10, Pre-sales at Chinook Observer office, or at the door