Musical Masterpiece

92 cast menders prepare for February production of Shrek

Nalani Nuylan , Managing Editor

Because of the amount of praise In the Heights received last year, theater is stepping up their game by tackling Shrek: The Musical this year. The musical will premiere Feb. 1 with a cast of 92 members, including dancers, making it the biggest show in Rouse’s history.

Shrek is a spectacle musical, which is a musical that incorporates a lot of technology into the production. The production began in May and design work happened over the summer.

“Since we have technicians who can create a set like we did in In the Heights, we wanted to go bigger,” theater director Stephanie Smith said. “We were pushed by judges and people last year who were watching the show saying, ‘Man, you do such great work, you’ve got the talent, so go big.’ And I said, ‘Absolutely, let’s do it.’”

Shrek has a professional set designer, lighting designer and sound designer. Smith is doing all of the costuming herself, and teach theater teacher Brittany Baugh is taking care of the props and scenic painting.

“We have an incredible design team,” Smith said. “I have no doubt that with the team we have, we can pull it off.”

Senior Keaton Pugh will play Shrek in the musical, alongside senior Elliot Equivel, who will play Donkey. Junior Kaitlyn Tatum is casted to play Fiona, and junior Andrew DeLaGarza will play the antagonist, Lord Farquaad.

“I was very excited to get my role,” DeLaGarza said. “I wanted that part a lot. I have an amazing time acting as Lord Farquaad, because when I sang my song for audition, I fell in love. I was like, ‘This character is so fun.’ When we went to callbacks, everyone was fantastic. I was kind of nervous. I was thinking to myself, ‘What if I don’t get the part?’ I was definitely happy to get it.”

The audition process for guys who wanted to play a role was different than for girls. The guys had to choose from three songs sung by different characters, while girls had to sing one.

“The first thing I did was submit my vocal range on Google classroom by a certain deadline,” senior Cherokee Ford said. “Smith gave us a song, and we had to sing it. We submitted it in on Friday, and that following Monday and Tuesday we got call backs. People at callbacks performed the part they wanted to play. After that, Smith put out the cast list a few days later.”

Shrek: The Musical is based off the DreamWorks animated film Shrek. The musical is different from the movie, but the pressure from the popularity is still there.

“Performing Shrek makes me feel like Rouse is going places,” Tatum said. “I have no doubt in my mind that we can pull it off. Everyone in the show is committed to it. We are going to keep getting better every year. It’s going to be a great accomplishment for Rouse, like everything we do. It’s going to be a huge milestone.”

For senior Jackson Featherstone, Shrek will be his first musical. He will play the Fairytale Character, Papa Bear.

“After I finish my number or complete a line, I want to get a laugh out of it, get some applause or have kids come up to me and say, ‘Hey Papa Bear, can I get your autograph or a picture with you?’” Featherstone said. “That will be the moment when I know I’ve done a good job.”

The musical is already in rehearsals to prepare for their February production. The hope is to get the show nominated for Best Show at the Greater Austin High School Musical Theater Awards and repeat their success from last year.

“We want to do a good job, and we don’t want Rouse to look like a one hit wonder,” DeLaGarza said. “We want people to look at us as the school to beat. It’s not all about winning, but we want to have continued respect from other schools.”