Ogre the rainbow

Shrek the Musical brings energy, talent and color to Miamisburg

By Jacqui Theobald

What makes a theatre lover? Exposure. It’s fun to see a good show and even more to be involved in being on stage or working backstage in a show that has quality music and a whimsical plot.

Fifty-four kids ranging from fourth-grade to seniors from many different Miami Valley schools are singing, dancing and learning what it takes to be in a play. Director Donna Roth quotes from the play: “Like Shrek, we too have been on a journey and learning along the way.” She praises her artistic staff: Stephanie Behr, vocal director; Sherri “Sparkle” Williams, choreographer; Christopher L. Haines, conductor of the 14-piece orchestra, a first for Children’s Performing Arts of Miamisburg (CPAM) productions. Roth is stage manager as well as artistic director.

The result is pure joy. Many of the cast members have an amazing amount of experience and it shows.

They are supported with equal fervor by parents and much of the community. Parent Lisa Warren, mother of ‘Mama Ogre,’ Alexa Warren says, “I’ve never seen so many get along so consistently and whole-heartedly.”

This Broadway stage musical of 2008, based on a Dream Works film of 2001, based on William Steig’s 1990 book has won numerous prestigious prizes. The music is by Jeanine Tesori, book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire.  CPAM brings this production to Memorial Auditorium, with the backing of the Board of Education, the Mayor and the City Council. The colorful program is laden with supportive ads from parents and the community and is generous and detailed with bios for actors, crew and staff.

This tale of ogres who want to be back in their swamp, of course, has heroes and villains. And the cast goes all out. Shrek is played by sevent-grader Bradley Scearce, 13, who says, “I’ve been in 32 shows.”

Don’t even try to do the math. Since he’s sometimes been in more than one production at a time he says, “My parents are really supportive and busy … taking me to rehearsals and lessons.” His experience shows to advantage.

“I love being on stage and making people laugh,” junior Jessie Deaton, the oldest of the three Fionas says.  “I’ve been involved in theatre since fourth grade, including Washington Township Children’s Theatre, Centerville High School and I hope to focus on a comedy career.” Her comfort level on stage supports her ambition.

The youngest Fiona is fourth-grader Jordan Head, on stage for the first time. “I like making new friends. It’s fun,” she says. She plans to audition for other shows in the future. Neve Barker is the teen Fiona.

David Shockey, another precocious singer and high school freshman, is Lord Farquaad, doing his second CPAM show. His part calls for knee-walking, with costumed legs that he says “flop around. It’s not uncomfortable because we found knee protectors. It’s effective from the stage.

The costuming for the enormous cast is bright and imaginative and seems extremely well fitted. Toni Scearce is credited as costume mistress and Joy Lauver as costumer. Many others helped make and alter everything from solid gold sequined outfits to various animals to appropriate costumes for classic fairytale characters. Intriguing is a shaggy character with a tail, in a plain old blue nighty. It’s the Big Bad Wolf. Some were created, borrowed or rented from other local theatres. You’ll see little pink pig noses, elegant knights and white haired blind mice with white canes.

Ashley Koverman and Melissa Fogle are responsible for makeup design. Considering the unique ogres and other never before seen characters, their work is a challenge. Fogle is also credited as house manager. Melissa Smith serves as assistant stage manager, prop mistress and set builder.

The sets are terrifically clever and colorful, designed by Chris Newman whose work is often seen at the Dayton Playhouse and other Miami Valley community theatres. Creativity and labor are apparent.

Adding to dramatic color is a very large pink dragon, made by Zoot Theatre Company of Dayton. Olivia Fogle voices the Dragon and it takes four puppeteers to move it across the very wide proscenium stage; Cassidy Jackson, Grace Levan, Haley Cole and Grace Rademacher.

Tim Guth is listed as technical director. Sounds simple, but the job covers designing all sound and all lighting. As are all the people who make Shrek work so well, Guth meets the technical demands of this challenging show with imagination and skill. He too has done sophisticated technical installations all over the Miami Valley theatrical world from Cedarville to Middletown. He’s also worked with national artists and industrial shows.

CPAM certainly supports introducing students to the responsibilities of theatre production with an Intern/Student Production Team. They include student Director Lauryn Templeton, student Stage Manager Lindsey Smith, student Vocal Director Madeline Scherer and student Photographer Olivia Fogle.

Nathan Bradley and Gail Wagner are the producers. Their tasks are innumerable and performed generously and humbly. Teri Templeton does marketing and ticket sales with great efficiency.

Bradley says he watched his children get hooked by live theatre and wants to “ensure these young actors have a creative outlet for their tremendous talent.”

CPAM presents Shrek the Musical’s second weekend, Friday-Sunday, May 13-15 at the Miamisburg Memorial Auditorium, 540 E. Park Ave. in Miamisburg. Show times are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $11, $9 for military, senior and ages 3-18. For tickets or more information, please visit cpamburg.com or call 937.867.0353.

Reach DCP theatre critic Jacqui Theobald at JacquiTheobald@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP theatre critic Jacqui Theobald at JacquiTheobald@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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