New London musical runs Nov. 10-12
By Scott Bellile
Shrek is far from the most polite and hygienic ogre in his fairy tale swamp, but that hasn’t kept away New London’s theatrical actors away from him.
New London High School’s fall musical cast is 40-plus strong thanks to a new push for New London Intermediate/Middle School actors to join this year’s production, “Shrek the Musical.” It runs Thursday, Nov. 10 through Saturday, Nov. 12.
“We’ve never had this many [middle school students] and they’ve never had this active of a role,” costumer Deb Slosarek said.
High school choir director Lori Flury said the two age groups, middle school and high school, combine to make the highest turnout for New London’s fall musical in years.
“We’re trying to foster that interest in musical theater and music that sustains from middle school to high school,” Flury said, adding, “It’s been a lot of fun. It’s fun to have so many kids involved and interested.”
New London Intermediate/Middle School choir director Katie Levendusky, who directs “Shrek the Musical,” said it’s been fun for the sixth through eighth grade group to shadow the high school actors. Her students are learning techniques that they’ll put to use one day when they control the stage.
The younger students fill in as various fairy tale characters with speaking parts and solo lines here and there to get accustomed to acting onstage. The leads are high school students Trent Kloehn (Shrek), Emelia Roberts (Fiona), Liz Radke (Donkey), Liam Fitzgerald (Lord Farquaad) and Dorea Lauer (Pinocchio).
The musical is a twist on the 2001 Dreamworks film “Shrek,” which itself isn’t a musical. “Shrek the Musical” features numerous original compositions weaved into the storyline, plus Smash Mouth’s “All Star” for good measure.
Flury and Levendusky said Broadway aficionados will enjoy the musical creativity of the songs, which replicate the styles of other hit musicals like “Wicked,” “Rent” and “The Lion King.”
The story follows the grumpy green ogre and his comical companion Donkey as they rescue Princess Fiona from the evil Lord Farquaad and take back Shrek’s swamp.
“It’s hilarious,” Levendusky said. “I’m still laughing at things even when I know they’re coming.”
Kloehn, who fires up his comedic chops as Shrek, said the musical is fun because everyone knows the character in some way, whether it’s the kids who grew up on him or the adults who watched with them.
“I think everyone’s familiar with it,” Kloehn said. “I’m pretty sure nobody hates it.”
Radke, who stars as Donkey, said the musical brings new elements to the story. Still, it’s true to the movie, which she saw as a child and has learned a thing or two from as a teen.
“It’s cute,” Radke said. “Like when I got older it meant something [more] than when I was younger. Now it’s not just a funny story. It turned into more messages.”
This messages, she said, include not judging a person before getting to know them and the importance of companionship.
The musical starts at 7 p.m. each night at the high school auditorium. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children and students. They’re available at New London High School, New London Intermediate/Middle School, the school district office, New London Area Chamber of Commerce, Festival Foods and the city hall.