'Shrek' all set at Connellsville High School
Connellsville High School musical director Henry Molinaro selects his spring musical choice based on the abilities that he knows he has with his students, so this year's selection of “Shrek the Musical” will undoubtedly be filled with big voices, big numbers and big talent.
“This is a fun show and one that is for all ages,” Molinaro said. “Kids will enjoy it because of what it is, and adults will enjoy it because they will get the jokes.”
Molinaro announced in the late fall that he had selected “Shrek” and soon embarked to cast the show, which will feature more than 100 students in the cast and technical crew.
“You really can't ask for a better group of kids then this,” said musical choreographer Deb Luczka, adding that they are thrilled to see so many freshman students come out for the show. “We had a lot of ninth-graders come who tried out who have never done a show before.”
The show features lovable ogre and unlikely hero Shrek who along with his faithful companion Donkey set out to rescue princess Fiona from her castle that is guarded by a fiery, if lovesick, dragon.
Shrek made a deal with the very diminutive Lord Farquaad that if he brings back the princess for him to marry, then he will get his swamp home back.
Throw in some fun misfit fairy tale characters and some super happy residents of Duloc, and you have one highly entertaining show that will satisfy audiences of all ages with its upbeat music and fantastic ensemble numbers that feature most of the cast.
“That is one good thing about this show,” Luczka said. “We are able to put a lot of the kids in the ensemble numbers. We try to get them all on stage as much as we can.”
The leads in the show will be played by Sarah Hammon as Fiona, Jacob Woods as Shrek, Marina Stephano as Donkey and Noah Allison as Lord Farquaad.
“Our leads are incredible,” Luczka said. “They are all very strong and they are a close-knit group, which is great.”
Molinaro said that he is pleased with the leads and with their enthusiasm and confidence.
“I have tremendous leadership in this show,” Molinaro said. “I'm not sure I can remember a show that I have done before where we had this kind of leadership.”
The show calls for several set changes, and the tech crew has been working for months to create the many different pieces, that will include some of tech director Andy Miller's creative genius.
“These sets are fabulous,” Molinaro said. “I can honestly say that these guys outdid themselves this year.”
Stepping into the fun role of Farquaad is sophomore Noah Allison, who is enjoying his first major part in a show.
“This is the largest role that I have done,” Allison said, adding with a laugh that he enjoys the spotlight. “I love attention. This is the part that I really wanted so I am happy.”
The part calls for the actor to walk on his knees the entire time, showcasing the small statue of the character.
“I think I can say that the hardest part of this for me is learning how to sing and dance while on my knees,” Allison said. “It's tougher than it looks.”
And speaking of tough, Molinaro said that overall, this production of “Shrek the Musical” may be his most difficult to date.
“Technically and musically I think that this show has been the most difficult show that I have ever done,” Molinaro said. “It's more difficult then any of the other shows from years past.”
The show was hampered by the weather and the numerous days off due to the snow, but Molinaro said that the students rallied together and the performances will be ready when the curtain opens Thursday.
“We have a lot of work yet, but these kids are focused and they know what they have to do,” Molinaro said. “When it comes to it, we'll be ready.”
Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.