In the Kingdom of Far Far Away, a green, obnoxious ogre dwells.
Below his crude exterior lies a caring heart and a determination to fight. Shrek, the ogre, joins forces with Donkey and Fiona against the evil Lord Farquaad.
Nanaimo District Secondary School’s drama department brings the characters to the Port Theatre stage during a production of Shrek: The Musical.
For the performers, the chance to act on the Port Theatre’s stage is a big opportunity.
“It’s kind of crazy we get to do it at the Port Theatre with such a big audience,” said Keiann Nowicki, who plays Fiona. “It’s a big opportunity to get our names out there.”
Her cast mate Raymond Salgado, who plays Donkey, agrees.
“It’s a pretty big thing. It’s an honour to do it at the Port Theatre,” he said.
For Ty Fraser, who plays Shrek, one of the most challenging aspects of the part was adopting Shrek’s unique accent. Rose Hough, the co-director, got her father, who is a director and actor, to help Fraser master the Scottish brogue.
“I’ve definitely come a long way,” said Fraser about his progress.
Martha Parker, drama teacher at NDSS, said the play is family friendly.
“Everyone will enjoy it,” she said. “It’s got a great message too – it’s OK to be yourself, to celebrate who you are.”
Staging the production is a new partnership between the Port Theatre, the Nanaimo school district and Nanaimo District Secondary School and the learning alternatives program. The collaboration is an expansion on the existing youth programming partnership, the Schools on Stage program, that has been running for the past 15 years. The program allows two to three elementary schools in the district to attend a free day at the theatre every year.
“This is the first time we have ever partnered with a secondary school,” said Bruce Halliday, general manager of the Port Theatre. “This is about programming for youth by youth.”
The program helps youths build confidence, teamwork skills and hands-on technical training. Besides having the opportunity to perform, students behind the scenes will also receive mentorship from theatre staff for areas such as audio, lighting and staging. The Port Theatre is donating the stage, waiving fees for the production.
Bob Brooks, vice-principal of NDSS, said he’s “incredibly proud” of the school’s fine arts program and these kind of community partnership programs create great opportunities for student learning.
“It really is about how can we learn from each other and allow opportunities for students to get side-by-side mentoring,” he said. “It costs a lot of money to put on a production like this and it’s an amazing gift.”
Brooks said it allows the students the chance to determine whether theatre is a career path they want to pursue.
“These are incredibly talented kids, unbelievable kids,” he said.
Shrek: The Musical shows Wednesday (Feb. 17) and Thursday (Feb. 18), 7 p.m. at the Port Theatre. Tickets are $15, available by calling 250-754-8550 or online at www.porttheatre.com.