Behind the Scenes of ‘Shrek the Musical’


Ellen Cassidy

Members of the “Shrek” cast have been hard at work rehearsing for their show in late February.

Rehearsals for Latin’s bi-annual musical have begun, and this year performers are putting on “Shrek the Musical.” So take a look behind the curtain and see what it takes to put on such a production.

Freshman Stella Tate Ricciardi-Fitzpatrick, who plays Young Fiona, said that the director of “Shrek,” Tova Wolff ‘09, has worked to ensure that the cast is connecting. “We do group activities to help with creating bonds and chemistry between all of the actors.”

In past years, the musical was directed by Upper School Performing Arts Department Chair Nick Baer. However, since he has taken over as Interim Upper School Director, he passed the baton onto a former student of his, Ms. Wolff.

It takes lots of work to put on a production like “Shrek” because of the fairytale aspects of the show. There is a fire-breathing dragon, a princess who is also part ogre, and a talking donkey. So it’s vital that the whole team is comfortable with each other to make sure that rehearsals and the show can run smoothly.

In addition, “Shrek” has over 20 musical numbers. Vocal Director Phillip Brownlee said, “I help students figure out how to navigate their own individual voice.”

Senior Makenze Humphrey, who is playing Princess Fiona, said, “The music is integral to the entire show. We have to learn the music before we do anything else.”

When choosing “Shrek” as the bi-annual Upper School musical, Mr. Brownlee had to answer an important question: “What is going to be a show that will highlight the amazing singers, dancers, and actors that we have?” He added, “This musical is like a dark horse—it’s probably not one that people were thinking of, yet it is commonly done at high-level high school performances. I just knew we had the talent to pull it off.”

However, with so much talent, there are bound to be differences in creative ideas among the directors and cast members.

Stella Tate said, “It’s a lot of ideas, and even though [we] have a director managing those ideas, there are still a lot of people who are on different pages creatively.”

Similarly, Makenze said, “There’s a disconnect, especially in this show, between ensemble based on who’s in what scenes.” With so many different creative opinions, it is important to be able to communicate and find something that everyone agrees with.

One thing that all cast members can relate to are the nerves that come with putting on such a production. Junior Finn Deeney, who plays Lord Farquaad, said, “I do three squats before every performance just as a good luck thing to keep me in a good mindset. I’m pretty superstitious when it comes to shows.”

Stella Tate likes to do “shake downs” to take her mind off of the nerves. “It’s better to put yourself out there and get on stage more to help with your stage fright,” she said.

With so many songs and roles to fill, the Performing Arts Department always welcomes more actors. Mr. Brownlee said, “Theater is a very accepting space, and it’s open to everybody regardless of your background or your experience. We love having people of diverse perspectives, or someone who will challenge even the way myself as a teacher would do something.”

Students also help each other ensure that the theater is as inviting as it can be for newcomers. Stella Tate said that as a freshman, “the seniors work hard to bring everybody in. The theater has given me a new, accepting community to be a part of.”

There is a wide range of students participating in Latin’s Upper School productions, ranging from those who have never been to a show to experienced actors. Actors, singers, and dancers are hard and work and hope to see you on the other side of the curtain!