We’re a month into theatre rehearsals for Shrek the Musical, Jr., and it’s hard to believe that we’re only five weeks away from opening night. Cast members have been rehearsing the songs with musical director Theresa Takacs since December, and now we’re busy getting the more than two dozen actors—many of whom are new to theatre—familiar with their blocking and other stage basics.
It’s a bit like herding cats at times, but many of the young participants are throwing themselves into their parts and clearly having a great time. A few others need a bit more coaxing, and we’ve had one or two people decide that acting isn’t for them. At least they tried, and who knows? They might come back when they feel they’re ready.
Over the years we’ve been fortunate to have many young actors involved with Winding Rivers Arts & Performance Society plays, and it’s a wonderful thing to see them go from strength to strength with each production, taking on bigger and more demanding roles each time. As long as we have young people willing to dedicate their time to WRAPS and the theatre, we’ll be able to keep putting on shows.
And it is a big dedication of time, for the actors and for their parents, who have committed to ensuring their children are there when they’re needed. At the end of each rehearsal there are parents waiting in the hallway outside Room 104 of the HUB, peeking in through the door to watch.
The set is beginning to take shape, courtesy of designer and builder Jim Duncan. At the rehearsal on Jan. 26 we have the outline of a centre section that features an archway through which characters enter and exit, which gives the actors a sense of the space they have to work with. It’s one thing to tell actors what the set will look like; it’s another thing altogether when they can see it for themselves, and get a sense of the space.
We have all three actresses who play Princess Fiona—young, teen, and adult—at the rehearsal on the 26th, so Theresa and I take the opportunity to have them go through the song they sing together several times. It’s good to see how Guarangi Benner-Tapia—who plays the adult Fiona—instinctively moves front and centre of the raised section at the appropriate moment, to give Gabby Kinvig and Artemis Fabre room to come out and move to either side of her for the end of the song. Having experienced actors like Guarangi on board makes things that much easier for everyone.
Scheduling continues to be an issue (three of the teen actors have basketball commitments, and some of the behind-the-scenes adults—including yours truly—have work obligations that keep them from some of the rehearsals). But we’re coming down to crunch time, and soon the dreaded words “Everyone has to be off-book,” which means no scripts on stage, will have to be uttered. The set will have to be completed, costumes will have to be finalized, and several props will have to be sourced and acquired. It’s coming together, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. We have the time to do it, but opening night will be here before we know it.
The next five weeks will be intense, but there’s a very real sense of dedication from everyone. We know we can do this, and that the end result will be worth the effort. On with the show!
Correction: In the last “Theatre Diary” piece, it was stated that Sloane Hammond was doing the choreography. Kelly Mykyte of Krush Dance Company is choreographing the production; apologies for the error.
Shrek the Musical, Jr. will be at the Ashcroft HUB for five performances in March 2019.