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Standing tall at five feet 10 inches, Northview High School senior Joe Jennewine can often look above people and scan a room. But today, playing Lord Farquaad in Shrek the Musical, he reminded himself that his usual height was chopped by almost half, and thus had to turn his head upwards to speak to people.
“It’s weird to look up at people. I have to remind myself to look up,” he said. The 18-year old played most of his role on his knees as an evil king who dislikes classic fairy-tale characters from Humpty Dumpty to Pinocchio.
The Northview Theatre students performed a special dress rehearsal for their parents today before starting a four-day run of the play Thursday.
“They are excited. There has been a good positive buzz and anticipation ran high all week,” director Don Wachowiak said.
More than 120 students, including youngsters from Maplewood Elementary School, participated in every aspect of the play, including actors, stage crew, and technicians. Mr. Wachowiak said it is a “student driven” production, down the design of the stage lights.
The production cost about $40,000, with some funds provided by the parent-run Theater Booster club. Mr. Wachowiak said that included a $4,300 expense for rights to and rental of the musical scores.
The department rented costumes from the Croswell Opera House in Adrian, including a “gorgeous” purple dragon that came along with a skilled operator for the head alone -- former Northview Theatre alumnus Alex Gibson. Four operators in all were needed to puppet the dragon.
About an hour before the curtain's rise, students put the last finishing touches on their costumes.
For junior Garrett Weddington, playing the role of neon-green and ear-horned Shrek, it takes at least about an hour or so to place the full prosthetic head on, and he also has to remind himself that his looks do frighten people.
“I think the way the crew would react on stage is going to be different ... but I turn around I see they get scared, and I get sad inside. Then I remember, I’m an ogre.”
The 2001 DreamWorks animation turned Broadway musical puts a twist on the typical fairy tale. Princess Fiona turns into an ugly ogre at night, and is not so pleased when Shrek rescues her from a castle.
“It’s challenging to play her because she has a lot of different sides to her. But it’s a fun challenge,” said Kristin Osinski, a 16-year-old Northview junior.
She said she can relate to Princess Fiona’s fear to show her true, ogre self to Shrek.
“It really hits home with me,” Kristin said.
“Just as she had fear to tell Shrek the truth, in my first year of theater I was scared to show others who I was, but I received support and help from my theater friends. It helped me be who I am.”
But fear was the last thing Kristin showed before showtime. Her make-up was in place and she stood confident, backstage rehearsing with other actors.
Northview Theatre performs Shrek The Musical 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $12, or $10 for students and seniors. For more information visit www.northviewtheatre.org.