North Star’s “Shrek the Musical,” opening Friday, has some pop

Shrek (Brad Scarp) grimaces as Donkey (Dave Inselman) sings “Don’t Let Me Go” to him imploringly. (Photos by Bruce Strand)

Shrek (Brad Scarp) grimaces as Donkey (Dave Inselman) sings “Don’t Let Me Go” to him imploringly. (Photos by Bruce Strand)

by Bruce Strand, Arts editor

Some new ground in local theatre will be broken when “Shrek” is presented starting Friday at the Zabee.  Or, to be more precise, some wind will be broken.

Yes, THAT sound will be heard, during a mating ritual when Shrek and the Princess start to like each other.

“I tried to take out, but the orchestra wouldn’t let me,” said director Eileen Anderson, with a chuckle. “A trombone player said he could make this sound, and a trumpet player said he could make that sound, so we let them do it.”

The Three Blind Mice, Anna Granlund, Lindsey Geist, and Lexi Freund, dance and sing.

The Three Blind Mice, Anna Granlund, Lindsey Geist, and Lexi Freund, dance and sing.

She deferred in part because “We’ve got kick-butt musicians in the orchestra.”

Brad Scarp, who plays Shrek, acknowledged that there’s “some low-brow humor,” which, he added, should appeal to the junior-high kid in all of us.

The cast promises that there’s plenty of non-bodily-function humor as well.

“People will get lots of laughs and there’s some really fun songs,” said Kristina Roe of Becker, who plays Princess Fiona, when asked what recommends this play.

Anderson added, “People who don’t think they’d like a musical should come and see this.”

This is a production of North Star Family Theatre, formerly known as Youth Theatre Workshop.

Demi Alfords, Lexi Freund, Keegan Goins, Colin Ritter and Eli Branjord sing “What’s Up Duloc.” 

Demi Alfords, Lexi Freund, Keegan Goins, Colin Ritter and Eli Branjord sing “What’s Up Duloc.”

Scarp, a veteran of local theatre who now lives in Minneapolis, is a portly fellow, just the right shape for Shrek, who, of course, is also green. Despite these two strikes against him, he finds romance.

“Yep, the ogre gets the girl in this one, believe it or not,” said Scarp. “They get to know each other and realize looks aren’t everything. That’s kind of the message of the play.”

The actor describes Shrek as a homely hermit in the woods who “winds up with the improbable task of having to rescue a princess.”

Shrek frees the imprisoned girl at the behest of Lord Farquaad, played by Jamie Cassidy of Otsego. Cassidy, a tenor who records gospel with the Cassidy Brothers, has the extra challenge of playing a nobleman who’s about four feet tall. Cassidy is on his knees, covered by a cape.

Kristina Roe as Fiona dances with Isaac Branjord,  playing a deer.

Kristina Roe as Fiona dances with Isaac Branjord,  playing a deer.

Roe, who has an athletic background (she swam for Becker and UM-Morris), brings physical humor to the role as well when her character gets happy or agitated.

“This is the biggest role I’ve had. It’s a chance to really learn and develop a character.”

With six performances, many of the roles are shared, including Fiona, who is also played by Sarah Rabe of Ramsey.

A dragon mixes things up. It’s played by DeeDee Buckley, big-voiced theatre veteran from Roseville who’s appeared here several times.

The cast includes Isaac Branjord of Elk River as young Shrek; Emily Nicovics of Elk River as Gingy; Nate Chesemore of Elk River and McCory Wims of Otsego as Pinocchio; Lizzie Inselman of Dayton and Anna Granlund of Big Lake as teen Fiona; and Breanna Cassidy of Otsego and Katelyn Kolyer of Elk River as young Fiona.

‘Pop’ sounds

The music, said pit director Brian Budahn, has catchy tunes and themes, mostly original songs for Broadway but also Neil Diamond’s “I’m a Believer.” Big numbers include  “Story of My Life”, “I Know It’s Today,” Make a Move,” and “Freak Flag” — tunes which, Budahn said, should make you tap your feet and hum them for days.

The orchestra has “an incredible group of musicians,” he said, smaller than usual with electronic emphasis (two keyboards, multiple guitars, multiple percussion instruments, and drums) for a more “pop” sound.

 
“Shrek the Musical
North Star Family Theatre
At Zabee Theatre, ERHS
Thursday, July 24, 7 p.m.
Friday, July 25, 7 p.m.
Saturday, July 26, 2 p.m.
Sunday, July 27, 6 p.m.
Thursday, July 31, 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 1, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 2, 7 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 3, 2 p.m.

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