A famous, Scottish-sounding ogre, an affectionate, strong princess and their furry, dependable friends have vowed to hit all of the right notes on a stage in downtown Fort Smith.
Students from the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith Academy Arts’ Xtreme Teenz group will perform their version of "Shrek: The Musical" at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the university’s Breedlove Auditorium, 5210 Grand Ave.
Adapted from the 2001 animated hit film "Shrek," the production is part of the academy’s ongoing On Stage Series and will make local theater history, said Shannon Stoddard, the show’s director.
"The most exciting thing about us performing ‘Shrek: The Musical’ is, the rights just recently have become available for organizations to do this production," she said. "We are the first group in our area to be doing ‘Shrek: The Musical,’ which is very exciting."
The popular, family-friendly story centers around Shrek, an ogre who is slightly stubborn but has a large heart for others. When Shrek is recruited by the deceptive, talkative Lord Farquaad to rescue Princess Fiona, Shrek begins to harbor feelings for Fiona. This unexpected emotional development begins to complicate things, since it was Farquaad who wishes to marry Fiona.
"I just really, really love this show," Stoddard said. "My group of kids doing this is a very special group of individuals, and whole theme for this show — the theme is, being weird and different is OK and normal — is a perfect fit for us.
"All of the cast members can relate to this theme because they all are unique with unique abilities," she added.
Cast members include Kariman Alsein, Blake Bulger, Claire Cabaness, Hailey Douglas, Casey Goodson, Caleb Hopkins, Brigitte Koprovic, Hannah Pair, Cameron Law, Shannon Lott, Dani Mays, Rylee Norton, Derrick J. Rassinier, Adyn Rink and Kelsey Vickery.
Other cast members are Desi Dees, Rhianna Pierce, Cody Walls, Lindsay Vickery, Annalise Worgan, Jacob Edwards, Jada Mack, Zachary Rylee, Abby Williams, ShaLee Rose Jackson, Carly Austin, Thomas Long and Cassidy Stout.
Among the crew members are Amy Medlock (musical director) and Jennifer Woodside Anderson (choreographer).
"Everyone has set the bar high with this production," Stoddard said. "They are doing an incredible job with this.
"And we’ve rented the costumes from New York, and they are top-notch," she added. "The set is humongous, and the kids are hitting their marks right."
Rosilee Walker Russell, the academy’s executive director, also praised the performers, adding that the 28 participants are the "most talented" to be enrolled in Xtreme Teenz to date.
"There are several dance numbers in this show, and that’s going to be another part that will be great about ‘Shrek: The Musical,’" Stoddard said. "These kids are doing the full range of things of what the people on Broadway did. They are hitting all of their harmonies for the show. It’s really an amazing thing."
Stoddard said she and her crew plan to submit a video recording of one of the performances to compete in the National Youth Arts Council competition. The entry will be the first time for Stoddard’s group to compete in the event.
"The show will be judged on the actors, the show and different areas," Stoddard said. "We’re so excited because it is the first time we’ve done something like this.
"I’m not sure when we’ll hear back from the NYAC, but we’re still excited," she added. "There have been challenges with the production earlier, yes, but the kids are doing an incredible job with this."