In its summer production of “Shrek the Musical Jr.”, the Roberta Jones Junior Theatre showed that beauty comes from within. At the ripe old age of seven, a green ogre named Shrek must leave his parents and venture into the world. His parents warned him that his monstrous appearance would prevent him from having relationships with others. Shrek proved his parents’ cynical prediction wrong as he went on to become best friends with Donkey and find true love with Princess Fiona.
“This story is about people learning to accept themselves for who they are; it’s a funny show with an upbeat message, ” says Kevin Cornelius, recreation supervisor for the Santa Clara City Parks and Recreation Department.
Andrew Melnick, 14, plays Shrek. Melnick says that an unexpected romance with Princess Fiona helped Shrek discover who he really was.
“On the outside, Shrek has learned, by how others treat him, that he needs to be aggressive to get his way,” Melnick says. “But what I love about playing Shrek is showing how on the inside. Shrek is really a gentle being. It’s important to be yourself and not let others push you into behaving in a way that isn’t you. I want to encourage people to be themselves and know that who they are is enough.”
Sparks fly between Shrek and Princess Fiona after the two had a belching and gas passing contest while singing “I Think I Got You Beat.” Carley LaPlaca, 15, dreamed of playing Princess Fiona for a long time.
“Princess Fiona learns here that it doesn’t matter what you look like and that you can find true love no matter what,” LaPlaca says.
Walking on his knees under his costume was Nicky Caldwell, 14, as the small-framed Lord Farquaad.
“Lord Farquaad wants to be bigger than he is physically,” says Caldwell, explaining his character’s ambitions to be a king. “At first it was hard to move while kneeling, but then it was fun. I had knee pads on.”
Assistant stage managers Hannah Brady and Katie Ratermann explain some details behind the production, such as the big dragon prop and an elaborate stage decoration detailing a field of flowers.
“The cast members put the harnesses on and there are poles they can hold onto while lifting the dragon,” Brady says. “Those poles go into the harnesses. It took some practice putting it together.”
“The cast helped with painting the sunflower feature,” Ratermann says. “A crew member spun the wheel behind the sunflowers. We built most of the set from luan wood, which is a thin wood.”