‘Shrek Jr.’ to animate Turner Theatre

There have been a lot of hit movies adapted for the stage in recent years. One of the biggest has been “Shrek.”

The green ogre’s cinematic adventures worked because they were relatable, with fun animated characters and situations for children and sly humor grown-ups could relate to (consider the villain’s name, Lord Farquaad).

But how well can animated characters fare onstage? Since there’s a built-in audience already familiar, throw in some catchy songs and make it “Shrek the Musical.”

The Springfield Jr. Civic Theatre’s fifth annual production will bring Shrek, Princess Fiona, Donkey and all their storybook friends alive with “Shrek the Musical Jr.” at next week from Thursday, Sept. 15, to Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Clark State Performing Arts Center’s Turner Studio Theatre.

“We wanted the kids to celebrate Springfield Civic Theatre’s 85th anniversary, and ‘Shrek’ is a familiar story with music and fun,” said Tonya Reynolds, the show’s music director.

The story line comes from the original film but with some modifications for a youthful audience and the music coming from the stage musical.

“There’s a great message you didn’t get in the movies — to be yourself and accepting of others. Great messages for a young audience,” Reynolds said.

Although limited in special effects, one magical highlight will be the transformation of Princess Fiona with the use of prosthetics and makeup.

Reynolds said the parent volunteers helped with that and the numerous costumes worn by the cast.

“Every year I’m blown away by the amazing parents and their efforts,” she said. “They usually create their own costumes. I can’t imagine the time it takes.”

Director Greg Willis, directing his third Springfield Jr. Civic Theatre production, has 60 cast members, ages 5-17. Some are newcomers, others veterans.

They’ve been rehearsing for nearly two months and getting a bit antsy.

“The kids have worked so hard, they’re ready for an audience,” Reynolds said.

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Contact this contributing writer at bturner004@woh.rr.com.