Nazareth Academy’s upcoming production of “Shrek The Musical” may look like it’s all fairy-tale fun when the curtain opens April 3 in LaGrange Park
But the musical has proven to be an intriguing challenge for the 44-member cast with nearly another 100 students involved in the show.
“It’s like ‘Les Miserables’ as a fairly tale,” director Kim White said of the level of singing and dancing expertise required. “People are expecting the cartoon to come alive. It’s like going to Disney World. You’ve got to keep the magic alive.”
Part of the magic in capturing the role of Shrek for Westchester senior Jeffrey Nowicki was mastering the imposing ogre’s roar and Scottish accent.
“It was more difficult to learn how to sing with the accent than to talk,” Nowicki said. “I spend a few hours going through the script every day.”
And then there was getting used to wearing the Frankenstein-like shoes for extra height. Nowicki and Michael Stec, who was double-cast in the role, began wearing them early on in rehearsals.
“It’s pretty easy now, like wearing a regular shoe, but still sort of clumsy, which makes it easier to be an ogre,” Nowicki reflected. “The dancing is going pretty well now.”
The musical stage version by Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay-Abaire is faithful to the 2001 DreamWorks animated film with the addition of several musical numbers. And there’s still the same happy ending of the ogre rescuing and falling in love with a princess, who is really an ogress, as well as the quirky donkey and love-sick dragon, who live happily ever after.
“It’s so fun being the dragon, definitely one of my most fun roles,” said Western Springs junior Bridget Adams-King. “She’s so totally not me, so big and out there.”
Like the film, the dragon doesn’t speak in the stage version, but the role has several earthy solos, which Adams-King relishes.
“Her songs are like Diana Ross in ‘Dreamgirls,’” she said.
Adams-King also is enjoying having her two younger sisters appear on stage with her, seventh-grader Mary Clare and third-grader Margaret, who attend St. John of the Cross School in Western Springs.
“It’s awesome having the three of us together,” Bridget Adams-King said. “I sometimes feel protective of them, or else like a crazy dance mom. It’s been fun watching them.”
With a number of strong performers who graduated in May, White said she has been pleased seeing talented new students come forward for “Shrek.” Westchester sophomore Julian Love, who previously concentrated on football, basketball and track, plays the donkey, made famous in the film by Eddie Murphy.
“I’m not a shy or nervous person, and I love to talk,” Love admitted. “The donkey is a lot like me, only sillier.”
Hinsdale senior Christiana Romano said she likes the toughness of her character, Princess Fiona, who is “totally the opposite of a damsel in distress.”
“The songs are so fun at the end the audience is going to want to get up and dance,” Romano said.