“The purpose of putting on the show is to give the kids the experience of creating an event together where every person in the group is equally important,” said Maureen Driggs, Vocal Director with the Santa Clara Musical Theater.
Driggs worked with the spirited students of Buchser Middle School’s Drama Program on “Shrek The Musical Jr.” During the Oct. 17 dress rehearsal, the Swamp cast performed smoothly. The show ran from Oct. 19 to Oct. 21 at Santa Clara High School’s Performing Arts Theater.
The musical tells the story of an ogre named Shrek who is insecure about his appearance. In the story, Shrek learns that he is worthy of being loved and cared for by others, and that he too can be a loving and caring individual.
“The story is about you are who you are and not pretending to be someone else and trying to fit into someone else’s story,” said Driggs, emphasizing the importance of telling one’s own story. “In a more interpersonal way, we try to help the kids relate to each other while building their skill set. When you’re acting, you need to show the emotion of the character that you’re portraying. We’ve done a lot of coaching on understanding the language of the play and being able to express that.
“To do that, you have to look into your own life and look into the lives of the people around you,” continued Driggs. “Some experiences a person might have in a play might not be applicable to a person, especially a young person. So we do a lot of work where we talk about that. We talk about what the language of the play is saying about a person. As an actor, what can you do to show the audience that this thing makes sense?”
Playing Shrek was Zachary Mechlin, 13. Mechlin portrayed Shrek as a hardened creature accustomed to rejection. After Shrek’s parents let him go, the first character to express a genuine interest in Shrek was the chatty Donkey (Isaac Kim), who provided comic relief with his constant wise cracking.
“I had a lot of coaching from [show director Celia Scheurman] regarding being Shrek,” said Mechlin. “A lot of what I have to act is to shrug off Donkey. Sometimes I shrug off ideas of my friends when they’re being silly.”
Maleya Dano, 12, as Princess Fiona, portrayed a young lady who dreamed of love and romance. The princess was ready to settle for an artificial version of these dreams by agreeing to marry the social-climbing Lord Farquaad (Ben LaBarge). Fortunately, Shrek interrupted the wedding ceremony.
“As Fiona, I experience a lot of frustration, love sickness and happiness,” Dano said. “To bring the happy emotions, I think of my sisters who are always happy. When my sisters don’t listen to me, I feel frustrated. For the love sickness, I have my dog who I consider my closest friend.”