This year, Golden Valley is going full out and for their spring play are presenting “Shrek: The Musical” directed by theater teacher and chair, Janie Prucha. Shrek is a movie many of us young people (and young at heart) know very well. It’s an unconventional love story between an ogre named Shrek and Princess Fiona.
Starring as the leading roles are Matthew Farrand as Shrek, Samantha Gebers as beautiful Princess Fiona, Ryan Watson as Lord Farquaad, and Eriel Brown as the well known and beloved “noble steed”, Donkey.
Each of these actors brings something special to their characters. When asked what they thought it was, Brown mentioned that she’s “outgoing and that helps with being Donkey.” Daniel Sotelo, playing Grumpy the Dwarf, said “I bring my wide range of voices and I’m a bit eccentric just like my character.”
Opening night was April 29. I spoke with many of the actors beforehand and got a feel for their anticipation for the play. Jaidah Sizer, starring as the Wicked Witch, summed up her feelings with “It’s going to be Shrektastic!” Sebastian Sotelo, playing the Big Bad Wolf, commented on opening night with “We’re gonna kick butt. I’m confident in our cast. We’re going to have fun. It’s about entertaining the masses.” Ms. Prucha exclaimed that she is “Excited for opening night. All you need is an audience.”, and boy did they get one.
The night began with the doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and the seats quickly filling, the hum of anticipation filling as proud parents and fellow students filed in, reading their programs, commenting on things such as the lead roles and the vast musical numbers.
The play began promptly at 7 p.m. starting with opening number “Big, Bright, Beautiful World”. Right off the bat the actors stunned with their vocal prowess. As the play progressed laughter could be heard throughout the crowd, a sure sign of them being entertained.
The crowd seemed to especially enjoy the musical number “What’s Up, Duloc?” as laughter filled the auditorium in response to Lord Farquaad’s dance moves. Watson brought to life his character with great skill and just the right amount of humor.
Being one of the main characters, I caught up with Lord Farquaad and asked him how he felt his character added to the play. He responded with “My character adds the whole conflict. The story wouldn’t be the story without my character,” which is very true.
When the cast was asked how they felt about getting the opportunity to do Shrek, Jaidah said “Shrek is a good choice because it’s filled with different stories fun crazy thing and everyone gets to let their personality shine through.” Farrand commented that “It’s a good idea to do Shrek because teens, kids, and even adults are interested in it and it will draw a good crowd.”
Casting is obviously one of the biggest parts of getting any play together. I asked other cast members how they felt about the casting choices. Daniel Sotelo commented with “The main characters have sublime genetic makeup for their roles. They fit perfectly.” Josh Aran, starring as Papa Bear, gave a word of advice. “Never precast in your head. Prucha knows what she’s doing.”
Janie Prucha is very proud of the kids and the work they’ve put in. “We’ve been working since January. Over 50 kids are participating in this spring musical.” Their hard work definitely paid off.
I talked with the four leads and asked how they felt about getting lead roles; especially since two of the leads, Fiona (Gebers) and Donkey (Brown) are seniors. Samantha felt “blessed to have one of the leads. It’s a huge privilege.” Ryan said “I love being a main character although it’s a lot of work remembering lines.” Matthew felt “privileged to be lead. It’s nice to feel like your hard work was worth it and you earned it.” For Eriel she felt it was “a pleasure to bring him (Donkey) to life in our musical.”
A wonderful theater program is just one of the many things that Golden Valley offers. With all the multi-talented students Ms. Prucha has in the theater department it’s no surprise Shrek was a huge success. As the program moves forward I firmly believe that no matter their next project is it will be as Shrektastic as this one!
–Charisse B. Atherley