Upper school production team members support middle school’s Shrek the Musical, Jr.

Shrek the Musical debuted on Broadway in 2008 – DreamWorks

Shrek has become quite familiar in popular culture since the film’s original 2001 release. Everyone has come to know and love the movie for its outlandish characters and fairytale-based storyline. 

After performing Addams Family last year, the middle school theater department will perform Shrek The Musical, Jr. For director Ms. Jennifer Hallman, it felt like the obvious choice.

“For years, the boys have been begging me to do Shrek, and I knew we needed some joy after being shut down for so long. Last year was fun to be back, but we were still rebuilding,” Ms. Hallman said. “I thought this would be the perfect way to get as many kids as possible involved.”

And it clearly worked. This year’s show has 56 students involved, while last year’s had 26.

Some upper school students have also been involved in the production, like Fifth Former Jai Bonaparte, who was heavily involved in the high school’s March production of Les Misérables as the Head of Wardrobe.

 “Since Les Mis wrapped, I’ve been helping out with Shrek as a wardrobe assistant. Pulling and organizing costume pieces, helping out with fittings, nothing major,” Bonaparte said. “Typically work behind the scenes of middle school shows is more relaxed than the high school productions, and thus far, my experience has been nothing but positive.”

Bonaparte has much creative freedom. 

“Ms. Hallman has been incredibly gracious with me, letting me design and construct the costume for leading lady Princess Fiona. Angie Fontana, the talented actress portraying the role, has been wonderful to work with,” Bonaparte said. “Seeing projects like this go from initial concept to design to the final product is one of my favorite parts of theater, and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity.”

Shrek, Jr. runs in Centennial Hall on April 28-29 at 7 p.m., and April 30 at 2 p.m.

Other upper school students have joined the show’s stage crew in lighting, set design, and more. Fifth Former Samuel Jiru has been a part of designing and painting the set. 

“My favorite part of the show has been being able to, for the most part, be completely unrestricted. I’ve been able to almost entirely design it with Jai’s help, with almost no help from the adults. It’s just been us working on it,” Jiru said.

Ms. Hallman said, “I am most looking forward to seeing the eighth grade guys this year step fully into the principal characters. They have worked so hard, and as sixth graders they didn’t have an experience like this at all, so last year was their first show with me. Now having them play specifically Shrek and Lord Farquad, it’s next level. They have grown so much. Everything the boys do in middle school helps them work their way up into being more confident onstage and earning those big roles, and I’m lucky enough to see them through high school too.”

Ms. Hallman also stresses the importance of the high schoolers coming to see the middle school show, especially those who have participated in past Haverford productions.

“The middle school kids look up to the older boys so much,” Ms. Hallman said. “There were so many of them in the audience at Les Mis, and there were so many of them in the audience last year as well. They just love what the boys do and they want to be like them, and I think seeing the older kids in the audience will make them the happiest kids on the planet.”

Shrek, Jr. runs in Centennial Hall on April 28-29 at 7 p.m., and April 30 at 2 p.m.

Bonaparte is excited to see the final product. He says that the high school students should see the show, “Because it’s a great time! All of the actors involved are oozing with talent and have an undisputed passion for what they do. They’ve been working at this show tirelessly since January and are just about ready to pop with excitement! The show is hysterical and tickets are cheap, there’s no reason you shouldn’t come see it.”