A certain notorious green ogre and his Donkey friend will saunter onto Vanderhoof’s stage to celebrate individuality this weekend.
From March 17 to 19, over 80 students from W. L. McLeod Elementary will present Shrek the Musical, junior version, on stage and from behind the scenes at the school’s gymnasium.
In comparison to previous years — the 2015 production was Seussical, featuring well-known characters from children’s book author Dr. Seuss — Shrek has bigger characters that require students to stretch their acting, explained principal Libby Hart.
For example, in a scene where students are each a different fairy tale character, the actors are encouraged to play their own specific role.
“It’s about celebrating differences,” Hart said. “You can be a green, mean ogre, but you can celebrate yourself and find happiness in the world.”
At its eighth production, this year’s Proud to be McLeod Productions feature many students who started from Grade 1, with several Grade 5 and 6 students in charge of lights, sound, and microphones, said Hart, who previously taught high school drama and music in Hazelton.
“It’s the little guys who get the training,” Hart said. “They are ready by the time they get to Grade 5 or 6.”
This year’s team of parents working on set, props, and over 400 pieces of costumes have been incredible, she added.
“It’s really a team effort,” Hart said.
Two secondary school students were also involved in backstage, moving set and ensuring actors are going on stage at the right time.
“It’s fun,” said Isabelle Turgeon, Grade 9, adding that she has been in every McLeod play since Grade 2. “I like getting to know all the kids.” She will also be participating in Nechako Valley Secondary’s production of Anne of Green Gables this year as Lucilla.
For Grade 6 student Ronan Blattner, who will be acting as Lord Farquaard this year, he started participating in Grade 4.
A little sad at his last year of McLeod productions, Farquaard is his second acting part in his theatre career so far — he was Mr. Mayor of Whoville last year, he said. “This year, I know a lot more of what I’m doing,” Blattner said. “I think I have the best costume in the whole play.”
He likes plays, though it requires a lot of effort, he said. “It takes so much, a huge commitment, but something I’m willing to commit to,” Blattner said.
For Grade 2 student Emily Clarke, who acted as a sunflower, a bird, and a townsperson in this year’s production, it’s her first time participating in theatre.
Enjoying the experience and characters, her favourite part is dancing as a sunflower, she said.
For Grade 2 student Jaxx Tait, who participated in theatre last year, his characters are also a sunflower, a bird, and a townsperson, though his favourite part is being a bird, he said.
“Because the wings are awesome,” Tait said. “I like being on the stage.”
For Grade 4 student Jemma Blattner, who will be a Duloc performer, young Fiona, a dancing rat, and one of the three blind mice, it’s her third production. Her favourite part is being a dancing rat, with its fun dance, she said. She will also be singing her part as Fiona.
For Grade 4 student Theo Clarke, as one of the three blind mice, Duloc performer, a knight, and a tree, it’s also his third production. With lines to act out, he enjoys acting as one of the knights, and his favourite song is “I’m a Believer” near the end of the musical, Clarke said.
For Grade 4 student Grayson Turgeon, as a knight, a scarecrow, a Duloc performer, and a tree this year, he started theatre in Grade 1 as well. “I like all of it, dancing, singing, being on stage,” Turgeon said.