Spring Musical Preview: Shrek The Musical
Shrek The Musical arrives at College Prep with a preview night on Wednesday, and three more amazing shows on Thursday and Friday at 7:30pm and Saturday at 2:00pm. Although keeping to the same basic plot line of the movie, Shrek The Musical expands on the stories of the characters. The musical version of the story presents to the audience more of the backstories of the characters, as well as the events that shaped their personalities and actions in the movie.
The Arts and Drama departments have been collaborating on the musical, based on William Stieg’s 32-page children’s picture book, Shrek!, since before the start of the school year. Salil comments, “it was a very complicated decision. It involved the choreographers, Charles on tech, and the entire Music department because of the vocal and instrumental aspects. Our school is very unique in independent high schools because we have a live student orchestra for our musicals. It’s a big achievement to have that, but it’s also a restriction. We had to pick from musicals in the range of a well-skilled student orchestra member as opposed to that of a professional musician. It’s a story that everybody knows, but it goes beyond the main plot to give you the backstories of the characters. We can experience their lives through song and dance, which I believe is one of the most important aspects of the show.”
The basic story of Shrek remains the same: the adventure of a lone ogre and his reluctant involvement in a quest with the King Farquaad, who terrorizes the kingdom. The dragon, donkey, and love story with Fiona are all there in the musical as well. However, there are aspects of the book not present in the movie which are in the musical. Characters like Pinocchio and Humpty Dumpty, people who were deemed “imperfect” by Farquaad, unite at the end of the musical in a song called “Freak Flag”. To this topic, Salil responds, “It’s wonderful. Everyone has all these illusions they’re living with, like the idea that the way they are isn’t good enough. In this song, once the characters have stripped those illusions from themselves, they unite to try to take their lives back by crashing Farquaad’s wedding. This idea is implied in the movie, but the musical goes far deeper into developing those characters’ original stories.”
With rehearsals up to five times per week, the actors in this musical have devoted countless hours of their time to for its success. Every week, on top of staging rehearsals for which people are called, there are also dance and singing rehearsals. Salil and the rest of the Arts Department believe the rehearsals are “just part of the process, the dailyness of getting the musical into your body and voice, so that when the actors perform, it just flows out of them. The incredible energy of this year’s cast makes every rehearsal a pleasure to be a part of.”
Because the actors’ conceptions of the musical were so influenced by the movie franchise, Salil deliberately stayed away from talking too much about the characters as they were portrayed in the movies. Comparing the musical to a Shakespeare play, he explains, “you can contemporize it and make it a completely different play in order to speak to a different audience. The Shrek play is like this because it can have many different iterations over the years that speak to many different kinds of people. That’s why we connect with the movie so much and with the musical even more.”
Another aspect of the musical that differs from that of the movies is the music. All of the music is completely original to the musical, except for the song “I’m a Believer”, which is used after curtain call. The songs in the movie were used as background music whereas in the musical, the songs are integral to the characters’ stories. They’re a way for the characters to express themselves, one of the building blocks of the musical.
On the topic of the music in the show, Mr. Patzner spent over fifty hours during winter break and before the start of orchestra rehearsals arranging parts for the songs. He spent that time adjusting existing parts for the songs to fit the instruments in the orchestra and creating parts to incorporate more of the orchestra during songs. The orchestra has been meeting during every break and after assembly to rehearse their songs and since Intraterm, the musicians have also began to meet for evening rehearsals as well. Mr. Patzner comments on this year’s orchestra, “it’s one of the best orchestras we’ve ever had. We have a combination of different people from Jazz Combo, Chamber Music, and other orchestras and bands all playing together on these pieces.”
While the actors and orchestra have been busy rehearsing, Drama Tech has been hard at work perfecting the sets, lighting, and sound aspects of the performance. As with most musicals, Shrek The Musical has demanded the blood, sweat, and tears of the techies involved with the show. While talking to Charles, he revealed, “the show is hungry for scenery. There are all sorts of sight gimmicks, an endless number in fact. Because the show was originally a movie, the producers could just digitally create whatever they wanted for the scenes. However, in reality, each prop and set is significant and hard to make. We had a unit set in A Tale of Two Cities, with one place becoming the setting for countless scenes. For Shrek The Musical, we’ve been challenged with building and beginning to crew the sets. In addition the number of mics make this a very complex sound show.”
The following students have each played a role in the making of this amazing production:
Diego Z Tickets can be reserved at this website.