By Lisa Capobianco
Drama Club students at both DePaolo and Kennedy Middle Schools are gearing up for their production of the Broadway musical “Shrek,” scheduled to take place this weekend.
Based on the award-winning DreamWorks animation film, “Shrek the Musical” takes place in a mythical “once upon a time” setting, telling the story of a green ogre who is mocked and feared his whole life by anything he encounters. After escaping to a swamp in happy isolation, a group of homeless fairytale characters invade Shrek’s sanctuary, saying that Lord Farquaad evicted them. Shrek strikes a deal: he will get the characters their homes back as long as they return his sanctuary. When Lord Farquaad meets Shrek, he also strikes a deal: he will give the homes back to the fairy tale characters if the ogre rescues Princess Fiona. After Shrek obliges, he discovers that he likes Princess Fiona, who always runs away when the sun sets.
“She’s just an amazing character,” said seventh grader Elizabeth Feest, who plays the role of Princess Fiona.
Elizabeth, who has done theater for six to seven years now, said she enjoys playing Princess Fiona because her character turns into an ogre during sunset, which makes her different. Elizabeth added that the message of the musical is all about embracing each other’s differences.
“Though we may look different, we have a lot of similarities,” said Elizabeth, adding that she enjoys working with the entire cast.
“Everyone is special in their own way—no one is the same,” added eighth grader Keegan Smith, who plays the role of the donkey.
Smith said he enjoys playing the role of the donkey because of the character’s sense of humor.
“He is always saying something funny,” said Smith, adding that he looks forward to “being in the body of another character.”
Eighth grader Connor Brush will play the role of Lord Farquaad, which will involve being on his knees throughout the production. A member of the drama club since sixth grade, Connor said he looks forward to the production, and hopes to continue acting throughout high school and college.
“I definitely learned to just be yourself and don’t be afraid,” Connor said.
Including new songs as well as the Shrek anthem, “I’m a Believer,” the musical features a cast comprised of 150 students from both DePaolo and Kennedy Middle Schools, who have rehearsed for months. About 44 of these students are part of the technical crew, JFK eighth grade student Nate Huff will serve as stage manager. Students will combine singing, acting and dancing talents to bring the musical to life.
Chris Palmieri, the Assistant Principal of DePaolo Middle School, who directs the musical, said they rented costumes for the first time this year, since the production involves a variety of different characters. He said the core theme of the musical is all about celebrating each other’s differences.
“Everyone is unique in their own ways,” said Palmieri, adding that the drama club has t-shirts with that core message stating, “What makes us special makes us strong.”
“Shrek” will take place at 7 p.m. on April 4, 5, 10, and 11 at Southington High School. Tickets cost $4 for students and $7 for adults. They can be purchased from any cast/ crew member or at DePaolo Middle School.