Shrek the Musical Jr. is bound to bring a smile to your face this summer as the cast of 71 children from across Southern Oklahoma put on their version of the Oscar-winning film and Broadway musical.
Led by a crew of experienced performers, including director Julie Clemens, musical director Wendy Berry, choreographer Kelsey Armstrong and stage manager Nathanael Durbin, it is apparent that both the crew and the children, ages five through 13, have put a considerable amount of work into the production.
As a part of the Ardmore Little Theartre’s 2019 Summer Children’s Theatre, the experience is designed to provide a fun way for children to get involved in theatre and, according to one parent, some kids never want it to end.
The production begins with a little backstory. Right away you can notice the great voices of the performers as young Shrek is kicked out of the nest through song. This is also the first time we get to see Daniel Mathis as the adult Shrek, who makes his entrance with great stage presence.
The story then takes us to present day where a group of misfits consisting of various fairytale characters are being marched through Shrek’s swamp against their will.
The children’s costumes are unbearably cute, with characters like Pinocchio, the wicked witch, the three little pigs and more rousing laughter and smiles throughout the crowd. In addition to cuteness, the characters are believable and well cast.
Sydney Daugherty plays a hilarious donkey, bringing classic Shrek jokes to the stage with punchlines like spending time in jail for “Impersonating a piñata”.
Also well portrayed is Zakry Gaither’s Lord Farquaad, who’s costume is impeccable and who captures the character well in small moments like threatening the person who works the stage lights when the spotlight is not centered on him. The short jokes made throughout the production also incite laughter.
The story moves along as Shrek makes a deal with Farquaad where he agrees to rescue princess Fiona, played by Mackiyah Roberson, as long as Farquaad removes the fairytale characters from Shrek’s swamp. Again, we are taken to a flashback where we discover Fiona’s rough childhood - she has been locked in a tower guarded by a dragon for nearly 8,423 days.
Shrek and Donkey journey to find Fiona and we get a glimpse of the main point of the production with a few more profound lines. For example, Shrek and Donkey discuss how ogres are like onions — they have layers beyond their frightening, unsightly appearance.
Once Shrek finds and rescues Fiona, her life-long illusion of being rescued by “prince charming” is shattered. Later, we discover why this is so important to Fiona; she must have ‘true love’s kiss’ to break the spell which turns her into an ogre after sunset.
Throughout their journey back to Lord Farquaad’s castle, Fiona and Shrek find themselves having unsuspected feelings for each other, however they both must achieve self-acceptance before the final act where Shrek declares his love for Fiona.
Overall, the production is heart-warming in its emphasis on self-acceptance and is almost guaranteed to get a few laughs out of you. And even with such young actors and actresses, any glitches during the rehearsal were well covered up with both humor and a degree of professionalism.
The show lasts just a little over an hour and performances will be held June 20 through June 22 at 7 p.m., as well as June 22 through June 23 at 2:30 p.m. at the Charles B. Goddard Center.
Shrek ears will be sold in the lobby for $5 and tickets, which are $8 for adults and $5 for students, can be purchased by calling 580-223-6387 or at www.ardmorelittletheater.com