shrek

Williston High School students rehearse a scene from the upcoming production of Shrek the Musical, opening on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. From left: Ian Skor as Shrek, Ann Reinke as Princess Fiona, Andrew Tong as Lord Farquaad and Thad Case as the Bishop.

Ogres, enchantments and magical talking animals. It may sound like a fairly tale, but Williston High School's latest production is far from your typical Happily Ever After.

Since the first week of school in September, WHS students have been working on the set, staging and theatrics of the upcoming winter production, “Shrek the Musical.” With a little over two weeks until opening night, the cast and crew are putting the final touches on the show, which is based on the 2001 animated movie.

"It's pretty crazy that it's happening so fast," said Eric Rooke, director of the show. "It's a pretty awesome production. It's based on the movie, the basic premise of the story line is the same, but they've added a ton of music and the music is so much fun. It's just a blast."

Rooke said there are over 80 students involved in the show, with nearly 50 of them in the cast, and the rest lending their talents behind the scenes as members of the orchestra and technical crew. From elaborate sets and costumes, to a full orchestra, Rooke said the show is a massive undertaking, but one he believes will pay off. He added that there may be some surprises in store for the audience as well.

"We're trying some new things," he said. "I'm not going to spoil it, but we've got some cool special effects that we're doing."

When looking into shows to perform, Rooke explained, the large cast for Shrek was one of the aspects that drew his interest.

"I'm always looking for shows that get lots of kids involved," he said. "We want something that we can have a big cast, we want something that kids are going to have a part in that we can put 50 to 60 kids in the cast. So that's something that we really want to look at when we're picking a show. And honestly, I think this show hit the nail on the head as far as getting kids involved and getting kids in the cast."

Rooke said activities such as the school's theater productions are a great opportunity for the students to get involved in a multitude of ways, not just on stage. His hope, he said, is that getting involved will help foster in students an ongoing love of the arts and inspire them to carry that love with them into adulthood.

"You have to make it fun for kids," he explained. "The arts are so important to education and they are so important to culture in today's society, that if we're not exposing these kids and making it fun for them and showing them how many opportunities there are through the arts, then I'm failing them as a teacher. My goal is to make music and theater and drama and all those things fun for them so they go 'I want to do that forever.' It's such a cool opportunity, and if we're not offering the arts to ours kids then I think we're failing them."

Shrek the Musical runs from Nov. 15 to Nov. 18, with performances at 7 p.m. on Nov. 15 and 16, and 2 p.m. on Nov. 17 and 18. Tickets are expected to sell out, so Rooke encourages anyone interested to purchase tickets in advance. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children. Tickets can be purchased online at williston.ludus.com.

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