The Hippo


Dec 5, 2019








See Shrek: The Musical, Jr.

Where: Concord City Auditorium, 2 Prince St.
When: Friday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 17, at 2 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 18, at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $15
Benefit concert: The Jordan T-W Trio perform Saturday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m. to support CTP

Gargantuan production
Children’s Theatre celebrates 20 years with Shrek

By Kelly Sennott

 From a synthetic Shrek head and homemade Pinocchio nose to a 20-foot-long dragon costume from China, the Children’s Theatre Project is going all out for this year’s fall production, Shrek: The Musical, Jr.

The show is a celebration of the theater company’s 20th anniversary, and Director Karen Braz even extended the age requirement to ensure this year’s turnout included a top-notch collection of experienced actors. The 40-member cast, which hits the Concord Auditorium stage this weekend, ranges in age from 8 to 18.
The finished product has been a long time in the making. The original plan was to produce Shrek in 2014, but board members decided to put it off a year and make it part of the big 2015 bonanza — plus, they were spent from 2013’s Beauty and the Beast, and they didn’t want to do this musical half-heartedly.
Because it’s no small feat to do it well. From pricy production rights and elaborate fairy tale costumes to the numerous set requirements — the story occurs in various scenes, including a forest, the town of Duloc, Fiona’s tower and the castle — you need time, manpower and proper budgeting. 
Working with kids adds another tough element. Auditions occurred at the end of the school year to give them an entire summer to get ready.
“Musicals are always a much bigger deal. You have the added music and dance that have to go into the show,” Braz said. “It’s a lot.”
But, if a recent rehearsal at the Community Players’ Studio was any indication, cast and crew will be ready come showtime. Parents and volunteers were on site placing final paint colors on sets, and Shrek, played by Jaxon Letendre, was sitting for the first go of his full green make-up. Kids, in between eating dinner and playing outside before dark, moved seamlessly through lines, songs and dances during the night’s run-through.
“There’s an expectation people have of seeing these very iconic characters they know so well on the stage,” Braz said. “When we talked about Shrek, we thought, did we really need to get the headpiece you paint green? … We’re a community theater, and budget is always an issue. But I just said no. We have to spend the money to make Shrek look like Shrek. … We’re still working on Pinocchio’s growing nose.”
The company has saved money by borrowing sets and costumes from the Rochester Opera House and digging through props and costumes from the Community Players of Concord. Dragon will be performed by Katharine Demers, who will wear a Maleficent-like costume and stand at the head of a 20-foot dragon piece that requires eight kids to maneuver, courtesy of the St. Paul’s School’s Nutcracker production.
There was high demand for this show among participants, Braz said, with nearly 80 at auditions. She thinks adults especially like Shrek for the storyline.
“It’s the message of, accept yourself for who you are, and don’t feel pressure to be something you’re not,” Braz said.
Kids probably like this too, but they especially enjoy the slapstick humor.
“The kids like the song that has all the farts in it,” Braz said. 
The younger kids said they enjoy the extra music and character backstories.
“[The musical] tells us what happened to Fiona before she was older. And they told us about Shrek when he was younger,” said Madi Barton, 12, who plays young Fiona.
Some of the older actors have been performing with the theater group since they were very young. They were a little more familiar with the musical beforehand — Demers said she’d watched it on Netflix “a million times,” and Letendre had been in a Palace Theatre production.
They think it’s even funnier than the movie.
“I’ve been going here since I was 8 years old,” said Shannon Mullen, a junior who plays older Fiona. “[The musical] is really funny with a lot more physical comedy.”
“It’s cooler than animation because with animation you can make [characters] do anything. But we have to figure out how to do that onstage,” Demers said. 

®2019 Hippo Press. site by wedu