|7/9/2015 2:01:00 PM|
Local talent helps make mean and green 'Shrek' ready for Masquers
by PAUL RIGNELLA gentle giant will come to life when Masquers Theatre Company presents “Shrek the Musical” for 12 shows in July at Forest Lake Senior High School auditorium. A cast of 65 actors (including 30 children) are under the direction a Chisago City native, who also relies on 20 crew and pit orchestra members in producing the show. Teens and young adults who have performed in Chisago Lakes schools theatre programs also are appearing in some lead and featured roles in this Masquers presentation.
“Shrek” Director Rachel (Meyer) Lexvold, a native of Chisago City, went from her high school stage in Lindstrom to appearing in Masquers’ production of the Minnesota-set comedy “Don’t Hug Me” in 2010. She acted in three more company productions before directing this summer’s major musical. She also directed some children’s theater for Chisago Lakes Community Education.
“This is one that I asked for (at Masquers) because I wanted a more modern show with lots of kids involved,” she said. “I thought it would be a good fit here.”
For those unfamiliar with the character Shrek, he can be an angry but loveable ogre whose voice was supplied by comedian Mike Myers in four motion pictures, plus Halloween and Christmas specials that were made for television.
In the world’s first introduction to Shrek, on film, Shrek was living peacefully enough in a swamp before his habitat got hit by a legion of recognizable fairy-tale characters such as Pinocchio and the Three Little Pigs.
If that wasn’t enough to stir the anger in this loner ogre, he can’t shake loose a wise-cracking Donkey, who becomes his sidekick. Shrek is tamed, though, by the love from a princess named Fiona.
The stage musical based on the films had its Broadway debut in 2008, and the show has seen a few revisions since a national tour opened in 2010.
Not everyone involved in the Masquers production of “Shrek” had experienced it performed live elsewhere; but the popularity of Netflix home video has allowed much of Lexvold’s cast to get a glimpse of how other actors brought the show together.
“They really amp up the fairy-tale creatures in the musical,” Lexvold said. “Of course, they added lots of songs. Donkey and Shrek are still very witty.”
The director was thrilled to welcome more than 90 people when auditions took place last spring. She said she was blessed to meet and cast many adults who have been great in aiding the child actors to learn and excel on stage.
“Having extra expertise on stage is really nice,” Lexvold said. “It’s fun to see different ages work together.”
For the role of Fiona, the director cast her sister, Rebekah Meyer, who had proven merit in the role of Maria, for “The Sound of Music” at Chisago Lakes High School.
Meyer said, “We have a really good group of people working on ‘Shrek.’ It’s been a really fun show overall.”
Meyer’s Maria von Trapp character in high school, was of an independent mind, and Meyer has found a similar spirit in princess Fiona. “She’s not the typical princess,” Meyer said. “She’s a little ‘out there,’ and brash, but very loveable at the same time.”
Meyer says she takes direction from her sister well. “We work together, we know each other. We speak the same language,” she said.
Erin Myhran, of Shafer, is barely out of Chisago Lakes Middle School, looking ahead to ninth grade, but she is enjoying her summer assuming the featured role of the Ugly Duckling in “Shrek.”
She promises lots of dancing in this production, which was new for her. “I had never really been into dance, and never thought of myself as a good dancer, but I’ve gotten better at it through this experience,” Myhran said. “The musical has a good message, and it has good songs,” she added. She handles some lyrics all by herself in songs titled “Story of My Life” and “Freak Flag.”
Masquers will present its latest production 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday over three weeks, July 9-10-11, 16-17-18 and 23-24-25. Sunday matinees are scheduled for 2 p.m. July 12, 19 and 26.
The high school is at 6101 N. Scandia Trail in Forest Lake. Adult admission for each show is $16. Seniors (minimum age 60) and students (with student ID) are admitted for $14. Children’s tickets (for guests 12 and younger) are $10.
Guests may order tickets online at masquerstheatre.org, or call 651-464-5823 for more information.