Nederland Theatre students unveil original touches on favorite ‘Shrek’

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, January 29, 2020

NEDERLAND — The Nederland High School Theatre Arts Department is bringing the classic DreamWorks animation Shrek to life, but setting it to its own tune by introducing new characters, back stories and music.

“Shrek: The Musical” debuts at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Nederland Performing Arts Center with a following performance Friday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students and children, $7 for adults and can only be purchased at the door.

Nederland theatre arts teacher Roxane Gray said it is always a challenge when recreating what others know so well.

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“When the public is really familiar with a piece of work, there is a little anxiety there to meet the public’s expectations,” Gray said. “Of course, we want our production to have the magic of the original but we also want it to be our original.”

Theatre students at Nederland High School built a replica of Dragon for their upcoming production “Shrek: The Musical.” 

The original Shrek was released in 2001, with “Shrek: The Musical” crafted in September 2008 by David Lindsay-Abaire.

The musical adaptation shares many similarities with the film, following the tale of Shrek and his journey to rescue Princess Fiona from her tower, but throws in various backstories of each character along with songs and choreographed dances.

Gray said the department chose the play because of the challenges and fun components it brought to the table.

“It’s a big production and we wanted an opportunity to teach our students about all the aspects of theatre,” she said. “How to create everything, how to develop a character, create an illusion and bring something truly magical to life.”

The actors who bring these iconic characters to life on stage are what truly make the production diverse and special.

Senior Ethan Rice plays the 2001 film’s antagonist, Lord Farquaad, a dashing, although short prince, and ruler of Duloc.

Senior Ethan Rice is portraying Lord Farquaad, the main antagonist of the show. 

“It’s a challenge to get past the physical barriers like having to be on my knees the entire show but other than that, it is really fun to play someone who is a little devious and kind of evil,” Rice said. “It’s fun to bring out the bad part of yourself sometimes and let it unleash on stage.”

Nederland native Mackenzie Drago portrays supporting character Gingy, a small gingerbread man with a heart of fire.

“Playing Gingy has probably been my most fun role,” Drago said. “Gingy is this loud figure who will stand up for whatever he wants, so being able to play that and have a lot of energy on stage is really fun. Gingy helps bring all the characters to life and seeing my fellow cast mates lifted up by the words is amazing.”

Nederland senior MacKenzie Drago plays the Gingerbread Man, also known as Gingy.”

Other supporting characters include Pinocchio, Dragon, the Three Little Pigs, Robin Hood and others. The musical version also includes characters outside of the 2001 version, such as the Mad Hatter and Sugar Plum Fairy.

Gray said if there is one thing she wants the audience to pull from the performances it’s the true message of the show.

“Although the film is animated and comical, there is a message for ‘Shrek,’” she said. “The message is of equality and inclusion, self-appreciation and having the confidence to be different.

“The fun is there. The spectacle is there but we want the message to be loud and clear so that when they leave the auditorium they will take that message to heart and know how important it is in today’s world.”

After all, Shrek said it best himself — “Maybe it’s hard to believe… but people used to think that I was a monster. And for a long time… I believed them. But after a while, you learn to ignore the names people call you. You just trust who you are.”