After months of preparation, the Eden Junior Senior High School (and a couple of even younger cast members) put on the show of a decade.  I could not have been more impressed with the production of Shrek The Musical.  They blew me away.

We were at every performance of the 4 day run that started on Thursday March 9th.  Before we go too far, I don’t want you to think that this is going to just be a dad bragging on his son.  While I was super proud of my little guy, the talent on that stage was very widespread.  I actually had someone else say to me, “who would have thought that such a small school would have THAT much talent?”

Merrick Allen absolutely tore at people’s hearts as the emotionally confused ogre who simply wanted to clear his swamp of fairy tale creatures who were dumped there by the short statured Lord Farquaad.  His singing was amazing and his acting was even better.

Ellie Hale had everyone laughing with her rendition of Donkey, the jabberish, obnoxiously loveable sidekick.  This is a character that in its nature is in your face, but she found a way to make it endearing.  Sure, the lines were all written for her but it was her facial expressions that helped to bring this one home for her …and talk about a voice!

The goofy, morning loving Princess Fiona was played by  Kristen Pszonak and could not have been cast any better.  The personality really came out from the get go when she interrupted  the opening monologue to welcome everyone to “Fiona – The Musical!”  On the first day of the musical, I couldn’t help but think, “how in the world is this girl going to be able to continue hitting these notes all weekend long?  She’s going to lose her voice!”  Not a chance.  Not only did she hit every note, she got better each and every time she came out on stage.

If you’ve ever seen the Broadway production of Shrek The Musical you might know that Lord Farquaad is probably one of the most physically challenging roles on the stage.  The actor has to walk on his knees to give the illusion that the ego driven wannabe king is actually only about 3 feet tall.  Adam Rakiecki killed it in his role.  He owned it.  I’m guessing he’s at least around 6’5” tall when he walks the halls, but he was a big man in a little man’s body on stage.  He was perfect.

They all were.

One of the biggest highlights for me strictly from a voice actor’s perspective was the talent of Ashleigh Brown.  Ashleigh played the part of Pinocchio.  It’s a part that requires the actor to not only speak in a funny voice, but to sing that way too.  And she did it…beautifully.

This was one of the first times that the high school had elementary school kids in their play.  But aside from their height, I don’t know if you could have picked the younger kids apart from the older kids.  They melded in and even shined in parts of the play.  The young Fiona (Gianna Gould), teen Fiona (Jessica Hall), grown Fiona (Kristen Pzonak) song in Fiona Tower blew me away.  It was hard to believe that those girls were belting out those notes at such a young age.  Here’s the part where I brag about my son too.  The three little pigs were all elementary school students, and added some big laughs to some small lines.

Plus, it never hurts to have a good fart scene to break things up.  (Kudos to the sound guy)

The scenery and props were pretty amazing too.  From a two story castle, and a cave that looked like a rock that turned around and doubled as Shrek’s shack to an 18 foot long, fully functioning dragon with blinking light up eyes, and an opening mouth, it was hard to believe that they were all completely homemade.

Every singer in this play could sing beautifully.  It was very impressive.  Congratulations to everyone who had a part in this production.  From the people on stage, to the crew who were changing the stage, the people in the pit who played so beautifully, and the directors, producers, and parents who put so much time and effort into this musical.  You should all be very proud of a play that made many people in the area raise their eyebrows to the talent in a small town.

Up next, it's the Kenny awards for this group.  They are one of 10 schools to be considered finalists for this prestigious award and I wish them the best of luck.

There are tons of productions like this across Western New York.  If your school district is having a play or a musical, I would strongly suggest you check it out.  It really is amazing what these young adults can do.  Support your local community and their music departments.  You might be surprised at how entertaining these productions can be.

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