SCOTTSBLUFF — Theatre West is continuing its summer repertory with the musical production of the 2001 Dreamworks Animation film and Broadway musical “Shrek, The Musical.”
As the cast rehearsed Monday in the Judy Chaloupka Theater at Western Nebraska Community College, set crew members made the final touch ups on the set. Richard Salako, who is interning for Theatre West, painted a wooden horse back stage.
“I wanted to do something before I transfer next fall to the University of Texas,” Salako said. “I got to know about this opportunity because while I was here, I was a vocal music student.”
Days away from opening night, the cast of "Shrek" was on stage with director James Alexander Bond working through the motions and scene transitions. As the cast brings the beloved musical and movie to the stage, Josh Woodie, who portrays Donkey, said there is an important message.
“I’m looking forward to sharing the message of inclusion,” Woodie said. “Inclusion is one of the main themes of the show and it is a very poignant theme for today’s society. No one is ever truly alone.”
The message is packaged into a heart-warming and humorous story of Shrek and Donkey’s adventures.
“We get to bring this really powerful message to the audience through high jinks and in just a silly, fun way,” said Ty Hebbert, who plays Shrek.
This part-fairytale and part-romance storyline tells the story of an ogre, at the behest of the vertically challenged Lord Farquaad, who bands up with a talking donkey and other misfits to rescue a feisty princess. Princess Fiona has been locked away in a tower until she is rescued by her true love. Through a series of close interactions on their way back to Lord Farquaad, Shrek finds acceptance and love.
According to a Theatre West press release, “Shrek presents a treasure trove of creative opportunities, including costumes, sets, puppets (there is a fire-breathing dragon after all) and more.”
To bring the story to life, the show features an impressive cast and leads, whose caliber has allowed them to pull together the musical in a matter of a week and a half. Typically, Theatre West has a week between shows.
“The caliber of this cast makes it possible for us to quickly put the show on its feet,” said Theatre West managing director Tami Lippstreu.
Woodie comes from New York and just finished shows on a Norwegian ship. Meanwhile, Hebbert is a well-known Theatre West actor, who has been part of many productions since 2014.
Patrick Newell, Western Nebraska Community College vocal instructor, said the set includes a cyclorama, which aids in setting the mood with colored light. The set pieces also rotate on the stage to make for quicker scene transitions and helps transport the audience to the Kingdom of Far Far Away.
Newell has seen “Shrek, The Musical” performed during a trip to Pittsburgh. The show included a costumed matinée, which Newell said they are incorporating.
“There were 30 little 5- and 6-year-old girls who came out before the show and sat in front of me,” Newell said. “There will be costumed matinées June 29, June 30 and July 6 where kids and adults can wear fairy tale costumes.”
Lippstreu said the audience is encouraged to dress up as Shrek, Donkey, Princess Fiona or whatever they want to be for the show.
Ahead of the June 29, June 30 and July 6 matinees, Theatre West is hosting a special pre-show social hour outside of the theater. The social begins at 1 p.m.
“We’re going to make booger cookies and we’ll have ice cream bars out in the garden,” said Judy Chaloupka, Theatre West executive director.
The booger cookies are made with pistachio pudding and green food dye is used to get the desired color.
The musical opens Thursday, June 27, at 7:30 p.m. Other showings are June 27-29 and July 5-6 at 7:30 p.m. as well as matinées June 29, June 30 and July 6 at 2 p.m.
“We want them to have a good time,” Chaloupka said.
Tickets can be purchased at the box office by calling 308-635-6193 or online at www.theatrewestnebraska.com. Good seats are still available.