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Story published: 08-27-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

‘Shrek the Musical’ takes audience to land of ‘Far Far Away’


Jonesborough Repertory Theatre’s latest production, “Shrek the Musical,” may soon have everyone believing in “happily every after.”

“It’s awesome,” said Beth Smith of Kingsport during the Aug. 14 friends and family performance. “The set, the costumes, everything!”

If laughter, applause and a standing ovation at the end were any indication, the rest of that evening’s audience clearly agreed.

“I thought it was exceptional,” said Barbara Stout, owner of Jonesborough’s Crafty Peddler.

“I absolutely love it,” said Matthew Smith, Beth’s son.

“It’s a feel-good production,” agreed Jeanette Miller, with Marj on Main.

Set to run through Sept. 15 with evening performances Thursdays through Sundays at 7:30 p.m. and matinees on Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m., “Shrek the Musical” is based on the Dreamworks’ Academy Award-winning film and tells the story of a large green ogre’s rocky road to true love ­— a love he finds in the arms of a very unusual princess named Fiona.

Along the way, Shrek encounters a garrulous donkey, a lovesick dragon and nearly every fairy tale character imaginable, from Pinocchio and the Tooth Fairy to Peter Pan and the Three Bears.

And, of course, there is music — lots and lots of music.

“This is the biggest production Jonesborough Repertory Theatre has ever done,” said Mike Schmidt, house manager for JRT.

With more than 30 cast members working together to belt out 20-plus songs — all the while executing expert Broadway-style dance numbers provided by choreographer Roxanne Halford — production preparation wasn’t always easy. But, under the guidance of play director J.J. Jeffers and music director Jennifer Schmidt, the work paid off.

“The actors’ voices are perfect,” said Kari Tuthill from Johnson City.

And Mike Schmidt’s promise to the audience that “this is going to be the most exciting evening you’ve had in a long time” seemed to come true.

“Honestly, when I first heard JRT was going to be putting on a production this size, I thought, Oh, dear Lord. How are they going to do this?” said Adam Honeycutt, who lives in Colonial Heights and has worked with both Johnson City Community Theater and JRT. “I expected a watered down version.”

He was amazed at what he saw.

With stellar performances by such actors as Tom Sizemore as Shrek, Andee Atkins as Fiona, Ben Bolt as Donkey and Lucas Schmidt as Lord Farquaad, the show seems destined to be a hit.

And the costumes, specially ordered from New York and carrying with them the magic to transform a group of Tennessee thespians into the quirky residents of “Far Far Away,” nearly stole the show.

“I’m loving it,” Honeycutt said. “And Dragon is awesome.”

Tickets for “Shrek the Musical” are $14 for adults and $12 for seniors and students, and may be purchased online at www.jonesboroughtheatre.com, by calling 753-1010 or at the door.