Be yourself – more specifically, “let your freak flag fly” – that’s the message young performers drove home over the weekend with their Camp Broadway production of Shrek JR. at College of the Siskiyous’ Ford Theatre in Weed.
Camp Broadway performers had only 16 days of rehearsals before opening night on Friday, Aug. 4, said camp director Neil Carpentier-Alting. “These youngsters have done an amazing job… this is truly their show,” he said, pointing out that the play is an “all-kid” production.
Many people have seen the DreamWorks movie Shrek, and the play followed the major plotline. Shrek, played cleverly by Aaron Andrews, is asked by the ridiculously short Lord Farquaad (Alex Morlet) to save Princess Fiona (Linnea Dolf) from her tower, which is guarded by a fire breathing dragon. The dragon was built by set designer Nic Fabrio and operated onstage by Heather Lemos, Faith McCollough, and Miranda Connelly. Kylene Mitchell sang her heart out as the Dragon Soloist.
Behr Marshall played Donkey with perfect comedic timing, which had the audience laughing loudly.
To cleverly illustrate the passing of time for Fiona, who was cursed to transform into an ogre after sunset, Lydia Goodson and Elise Dolf also depicted the character at different ages of her life. Miranda Connelly played Fiona when she transforms into an ogre, taking on “true love’s true form” at the conclusion of the play.
A host of fairy tale characters convince Shrek to embrace his strangeness with the song “Freak Flag,” and all characters perform “I’m a Believer,” which is the theme song of the original movie.
Costumes for the performance were rented from New York, with makeup and prosthetics done by Kevin Tolson.
Many performers played several parts and had several complicated costume changes.
The cast of characters included Guinevere Eldridge as Gingy the Gingerbread Man; Katey Whitmore as Pinocchio (complete with a growing nose); Evelyn Holden as the little ogre, a bird, and a gnome; Elise Dolf as Puss in Boots; Lydia Goodson as Tweedle Dum; Brynn Witherell as the Little Ogre and the Pied Piper; Patrick Hill as Captain of the Guards; Dean Shelly as the Big Bad Wolf and a knight; Nora Belle Laslo as the Wicked Witch; Claire Otrin as Peter Pan; Claire McGee, Angelina Russo, and Hannah Renick as the Three Little Pigs; Sophia Morlet as the Ugly Duckling; Emma Degraffenreid as Mama Bear; Cayden Pulatie as a dwarf, a knight, a guard, and a tree; Andrew Hill as a knight and a guard; Guinevere Robinson as Lumiere, a tree, and a Duloc Dancer; Marie Goodson as Tweedle Dee; Savvy James Gigliotti as Baby Bear and a bird; Ella Rawitch as Papa Bear and a deer; Violet Kinkade as one of the Three Blind Mice, a tree, and a Duloc dancer; Karina Rodenberger as a blind mouse and a Duloc dancer; Kady Ann Terry as a blind mouse and a tree; and Sophie Hunter as the White Rabbit.
Storytellers were Heather Lemos, Courtney Barton, and Faith McCollough. Barton also played the Bishop.
The production was directed and choreographed by Wendy James. Costumes were by Lacey Williams; stage manager was Shasta Stewart; lighting design by Devon Tiffany, dance captain and assistant director was Mikala Thompson; spot operators were Mimi Piper and Sam Shelly; sound board operator was Rose Carpentier-Alting; and Riley Witherell was deck captain.