By Joseph Pratt
Young actors with the Portsmouth Area Children’s Theatre (PACT) are excited to be tackling a relatively new show, as they prepare for “Shrek the Musical, JR.” as their season-opening musical of the 2015-2016 season.
The show is a 60-minute version of the original stage adaptation, which is based on the 2001 Oscar-winning Dreamworks movie.
According to Musical Theatre International (MTI), who owns the theatrical right to the show, “Shrek the Musical, JR.” is very similar to the original film.
The story will take patrons to a faraway kingdom, where the green ogre Shrek finds his swamp invaded by banished fairy tale misfits, runaways who’ve been cast off by Lord Farquaad, a tiny terror with big ambitions. When Shrek sets off with a wise-cracking donkey to confront Farquaad, he’s handed a task. If he rescues feisty Princess Fiona from the Dragon-guarded tower, his swamp will be returned to him.
During Shrek’s adventure, the audience will experience classic fairy tale favorites, including Pinocchio, Big Bad Wolf, Gingerbread Man, Peter Pan, and more.
The musical features many of the instantly classic songs, such as “I Think I Got You Beat,” “Freak Flag,” “Story of my Life,” “Travel Song” and more.
Portsmouth Area Arts Council Executive Director Becky Lovins oversees the productions PACT creates. She explained that “Shrek the Musical” is a show that all of the students have wanted to tackle since it hit Broadway years ago. With the passion and love of the story backing the ambitions of the children, rehearsals have been smooth and the show has come a long way.
“The kids really enjoy working together, and the more shows they do, the more like family they become,” Lovins said. “It is really one of the most fun shows we’ve ever really done.”
Lovins said that, while the show is fun, there is also a lot for the kids to learn and take away from the experience.
“The thing I love most about Shrek is the message that it is okay to be different,” Lovins said. “In fact, it teaches that it is better to be different; the best you can be is yourself. Whether or not that conforms to the norm or not, that is really the best way to be.”
The young thespians aren’t only getting the individual lessons from the story of Shrek, but they are also getting the many skills theatre teaches, from following directions, to learning how to project and speak properly, to understanding teamwork, and more.
Lovins and Artistic Director Susan Foster both strive to teach children life skills with each show, since they’ve watched theatre and performance change the lives of hundreds of children over the years.
“There are a lot of benefits of theatre. Some of the ones we immediately see on the surface are increased confidence, it takes a lot of nerve to stand on a 40-foot stage in front of a thousand people and sing and dance and bare your soul; it teaches kids commitment and the importance of follow through; the ability to follow directions, which will follow anyone throughout life; and teamwork skills, because they really learn that everyone has a job and each one is valuable in building something bigger than just a single person.”
“Shrek the Musical, JR.” will open curtain on Friday, Oct. 16 and Saturday, Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 18 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the McKinley Box Office, by calling 740-351-3600, or by visiting on the day of the show. General admission is $12 for adults and $10 children. Group rates are available by calling or visiting the box office.
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.