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High school talent shines in unconventional fairy tale

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Top left to right: Erin Kobe, Alex Firby, Sagen Wilkinson, Macey Quigley, Tyler Deeble, Hunter Cook, Sarah Deeble. Spencer Jensen, Jacob Peterson

Last week the Morgan High School auditorium turned green as students treated Morgan County to a wonderful performance of “Shrek the Musical.” The production is a humorous and entertaining show about an Ogre named Shrek. On an errand from Lord Faarquad, Shrek falls in love with Princess Fiona whom upon a true love’s kiss turns into an Ogre herself and realizes that true beauty doesn’t mean pretty.

Each showing contained exceptional vocal and theatrical performances. 

With the excessive amount of talent housed within the MHS drama department, Director/Drama Teacher Candice Wilder was able to double cast the roles of Shrek and Fiona. Each actor and actress had the opportunity to perform three times. Shrek was played by Gage Anderson and Tyler Deeble. Fiona was played by Heather Heywood and Macey Quigley.

The “small” part of Lord Faarquad was played by Jacob Peterson, while the entertaining Donkey was portrayed each night by Sagen Wilkinson.

These lead roles were cast in the summer after school ended in 2014. These gifted teens practiced throughout the summer right up to show time. The other cast members were chosen after school started, practicing throughout the first trimester.

The audience was enthralled with this entertaining musical every night.  At the end of the show there were 58 students on the stage, all in costume singing and dancing. In such a small school, it is incredible to have that many talented performers on stage.

Countless hours were spent not only in the parts you can see and hear, but also behind the curtain from set and costume design, to lighting and stage tech. An additional 21 students were involved with various other parts of the production.

One of the more stressful times back stage was transforming Princess Fiona from a beautiful princess to a chubby green Ogre in 45 seconds, but they pulled it off brilliantly. Helping in this process were: Chloe Adams, Jane Pobanz, Kayla Walker, Donkey Wilkinson, Emma Lindley, Kaylene Reeder, Macey Quigley and Heather Heywood.

“Starting with a show, I dream about the set, the lights, the sound, the costumes.  As I get further along, I start thinking about the words of the music and the deeper meaning of the show.  Then all of that pales in comparison to the amazing talent that my students put into that show. Nothing compares to their passion and the pride I feel when they accomplish their goals in acting and design. There’s nothing like it in the world. I can’t even begin to express how proud of them I am. All of them, my actors, my tech, my team,” said Wilder in a “proud mom” moment.

Choir Director Michael Mills, who directed the music for the show, said, “I am so pleased with what these kids have been able to accomplish in putting on Shrek the Musical. It hasn’t been easy for anyone involved. It has been constant work from start to finish. Their work didn’t start three months ago when rehearsals for this show officially began, it started years ago when they decided that they wanted to do more with themselves through acting and singing.”

Mills continued his praise saying, “I have watched them practice and sometimes fail. But they never gave up. They played ‘smaller’ roles in other shows; they sought opportunities to sing. These seemingly small things over several years led them to this moment in which they were able to take part in something truly special. We had a ton of fun. These kids have done remarkable things and it was truly a pleasure for me to be even a small part of it.”

Though the audience was thoroughly engaged throughout each performance, a particular scene that was an instant audience favorite was when Dragon, played by Belle Lunt, Marc Romero and Gavin Wilkerson, chased Donkey off the stage and ran up and down the aisles. The children laughed and giggled and the characters made their way around the auditorium.

The leader of the fairy tale creatures in the musical is Pinocchio, played by Hunter Cook. He lead the characters in a song called, “Let Your Freak Flag Fly,” as this group of misfits decide they are not going to put up with being banished to a swamp by the little Lord Faarquad. At the end of the song, Pinocchio says with confidence in his high wooden nasally voice, “I’m wood, I’m good, get used to it.”

Tyson Turner, who played a Lieutenant, Grumpy and a Knight, said, “This musical has been one of the best experiences of my entire life.”

Morgan Elementary and Morgan Middle School students were able to see the first half of the show at an assembly. Mountain Green Elementary students were treated to a lunch visit from Shrek, Donkey and Lord Faarquad.

Wilder was thrilled about the community response for this show. “Thank you to the community for all the sponsorships and support and the parents who have helped us along the way. Big shout out to my husband and father for their talent and designs. And thank you to everyone who has come to see these amazing students put on one of the best shows I’ve ever had the honor to be a part of!”

If you have not had a chance to attend a musical at MHS, I recommend adding it on your list of things to do.

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