A big green ogre is coming to the Rye Neck Performing Arts Center at the end of the month. But the news is cause for cheer, not fear, as he’s part of the fairy-tale musical, “Shrek.”
By Janice Llanes Fabry
A big green ogre is coming to the Rye Neck Performing Arts Center at the end of the month. But the news is cause for cheer, not fear, as he’s part of the fairy-tale musical, “Shrek.” The talented Rye Neck High cast and crew promise to make the story of a green ogre, whose solitude is interrupted by exiled fairy-tale characters, come to life on stage.
Co-Director and Choreographer Tricia Arenson remarked, “‘Shrek’ is tremendously different than anything Rye Neck has done before. It’s much more modern and it has a young, fresh edge to it.”
It was this change of pace that prompted Arenson, along with co-Director Steven Loftus and Production Manager Scott Harris, into selecting the musical based on William Steig’s 1990 children’s classic.
“Our challenge this year has been portraying larger than life characters as human,” said Loftus, who doubles as musical director. “Our source material is a children’s book, which ‘Shrek’ was before it ever was a musical or a movie.”
No doubt the high school production has a lot to live up to. The beloved 2001 animated film was so popular it earned $484 million at the box office worldwide. More importantly for Rye Neck, it boils down to introducing students to different aspects of theater.
“You never want to do the same kind of show two years in a row, so that the students are exposed to all different kinds of productions,” said Harris, who is also the director of the school’s theater program. “‘Shrek’” is a comedy that is huge in terms of scope, special effects, and costumes. It has been a blast for all of us to work on.”
Harris, Loftus, and Arenson applaud their tireless crew and a cast of over 50 young actors, which they assembled after holding three-day auditions. Students in some of the lead roles include: Mikael Bucknavage as Shrek, Maite Elias-Nava as Princess Fiona, Justin Sturgis as Donkey, Kevin Hassenfratz as Lord Farquaad, Elena Ruigomez as Dragon, Rachel Wurzburger as Gingy, Jacob Hagensen as Pinoccio, and Gordon MacKenzie as Big Bad Wolf.
With the show only three weeks away, rehearsals are full steam ahead. “We’re in a great spot right now,” said Loftus. “We’ve guided the actors and now it’s their job to develop the characters and the relationship between them.”
Harris observed, “These students are so devoted and have so much enthusiasm, energy, and talent. Once you get an audience in the house, there’s no telling.”
Performances are February 27 and 28 at 7 p.m., and March 1 at 1 and 7 p.m. For tickets, contact Caitlin Corvini at firstname.lastname@example.org.