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Marion-Franklin High School Students Shine in Shrek the Musical Jr. Production
March 9, 2023 -- From the first note to the final bow, the Marion-Franklin High School cast and crew of Shrek the Musical Jr. brought the whimsical fairy tale to life with their boundless energy, creativity, and passion for the arts.
The talented cast and crew spent months rehearsing for the one-night-only show, and their hard work and dedication paid off.
Shrek, the Musical Jr., is a musical adaptation of the popular DreamWorks Animation film.
The musical follows the story of an unlikely hero, a grumpy ogre named Shrek, who must save his swamp from a group of fairy tale creatures banished by the evil Lord Farquaad.
Along the way, Shrek meets the talkative Donkey and falls in love with the fierce Princess Fiona. The show features catchy songs, colorful costumes, and plenty of humor.
Vocal Music teacher Christina Nawrocki shares the inspiration behind choosing Shrek the Musical as Marion-Franklin's school production.
"Last year's Aladdin cast suggested Shrek and a few other titles," said Nawrocki. "Since so many students wanted to be involved in the musical this year, Shrek was selected, as it requires a large cast, allowing more students to participate."
The Marion-Franklin production of Shrek, the Musical Jr. was a collaborative effort.
Students from various grade levels worked together to build the set, design the costumes, and perfect the choreography.
"We didn't have a budget for a choreographer, so I wrote all the dances myself using the show choir mirrors in my classroom," said Nawrocki. "The stage is marked with electrical tape in various colors to help the students remember their movements on stage."
The cast included experienced performers and newcomers to the stage, and everyone worked together to create a memorable show.
"Mr. Toth, our band director, completely updated the lighting in the auditorium specifically for this show," said Nawrocki. "Additionally, the cast members painted their own backgrounds on the Periaktoi on Saturday mornings to allow for more backdrops during the show. Our cast members sang in the actual Marion-Franklin choir robes during the gospel-style song in true gospel fashion."
One standout performer was senior Sadiq Ricket, who played the role of Shrek. Sadiq brought a depth of emotion and humor to the character, capturing both Shrek's grumpiness and his vulnerable side.
"Mrs. Nawrocki allowed us to be creative and to add our own twist on the characters," said Ricket. "It only took me a couple of weeks to learn my script."
Senior Chyann Reeves played Princess Fiona, bringing fierce energy to the role. Chyann's performance was full of heart and humor as she lit the stage with her powerful vocals. She had great chemistry with Ricket, as their scenes were some of the show's highlights.
"The biggest challenge of the musical was memorizing all of my lines and cues," said Reeves. "The most important message conveyed in the musical is to follow your heart."
Senior Kaden Spaulding played Donkey, stealing the show with his hilarious one-liners. Kaden had great comedic timing, bringing a lot of heart to the role. His duet with Ricket, "Travel Song," was one of the show's most memorable moments.
Nawrocki has guided and motivated every performer throughout the production by highlighting particular words in the script related to their personality, allowing them to develop their characters and bring them to life.
"I suggested ways to highlight the character's personality, and ask how their character would interact with what else is going on in the scene or song," said Nawrocki. "Often, we demonstrated possible movements and mannerisms beside the students on stage during the learning process."
Supporting cast members also shined in their roles, bringing energy and humor to each scene. In addition, the fairy tale creatures wowed the audience with their impressive choreography.
The villainous Lord Farquaad, played by junior Annika (Anni) Elwell, brought a hilarious, over-the-top energy to the role.
Freshman Gabriel Blankenship, who played one of Farquaad's guards, shares how he prepared for his role.
"I've been in plays before. It only took me a couple of weeks to learn my script," said Blakenship. "It took me a little longer to learn the choreography, maybe a month."
Most of the Shrek cast consisted of Marion-Franklin seniors set to graduate in June. Those senior cast members are:
- Sadiq Ricket as Shrek
- Chyann Reeves as Fiona
- Kaden Spaulding as Donkey
- Naveah Bishop as Dragon
- Adriana Boudreaux as Teen Fiona
- Mattie Boudreaux as Guard
- Sage Elwell as Papa Ogre/Dwarf
- Casean Crane as Knight/Storyteller
- Chelsea Reeves as Knight/Storyteller
- Kassady Slater as Gingy
- Electra Sims as Papa Bear
- Malik Ali as Pied Piper
"Many of our cast members are also athletes in boys and girls bowling, wrestling, boys and girls basketball, or take vocational courses at Fort Hayes Career Center or Columbus Downtown High School," said Nawrocki. "These students are among the most engaged at Marion-Franklin and are excited to share their recent accomplishments with the community."
As opening night approached, the excitement and nervousness among the students were evident.
Friends, family, and community members filled the theater, eagerly awaiting the performance. Finally, the students stepped onto the stage with confidence and enthusiasm, delivering an unforgettable performance.
Marion-Franklin's Shrek, the Musical Jr. production was a huge success!
The cast and crew gave a heartfelt, entertaining performance showcasing the student's hard work and dedication, leaving the audience cheering.
Nawrocki expressed that the confidence gained by cast members during the production process will extend to their other high school experiences.
"I hope that by getting involved at the school-level our students will develop a love of theater that will follow them into their adult lives, as well as the confidence to try new things," said Nawrocki. "May our students never lose their zest for life and always embrace their uniqueness."