‘Shrek the Musical’ opens Friday at Rogers City Theater

A cast full of fairy tale characters will take to the stage Friday for the opening night of 'Shrek the Musical.' (Photo by Richard Lamb)
A cast full of fairy tale characters will take to the stage Friday for the opening night of ‘Shrek the Musical.’ (Photo by Richard Lamb)

by Richard Lamb–Advance Editor

A musical spectacular is planned by the Rogers City Community Theatre (RCCT) beginning Friday. The play “Shrek the Musical” features a talented cast of familiar faces and some new ones to the stage at the Rogers City Theater. The play is based on the 2001 feature film “Shrek” and features music by Jeanine Tesori with lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire. The play opened on Broadway in 2008 and has been presented at many community and regional theaters for the past 10 years.

James DeDecker is the director of the local presentation. He directed “My Fair Lady” in 2016 and has appeared in several shows including “Oliver!” presented by RCCT last year.

The lead is played by Morgan Suszek, a veteran of shows such as “Annie” and “Singin’ in the Rain” among others. Kendra McInerney plays Shrek’s love interest, Princess Fiona and Brittany VanderWall play’s Shrek’s companion, Donkey. The story takes the audience through the changes happening to an ogre named Shrek and his fight for acceptance.

The play follows the adventures of princess Fiona, Shrek and Donkey. (Photo by Richard Lamb)
The play follows the adventures of princess Fiona, Shrek and Donkey. (Photo by Richard Lamb)

“Obviously there is a sort of blueprint for what people expect out of ‘Shrek,’ but I think character-wise a lot of us have made this show uniquely our own. I think anyone with an imagination and a sense of humor is going to love this show. The most challenging aspect of bringing this script to life is technical.  There are some great gags throughout the show it’s just a matter of making them work, not to mention the full ogre transformation near the end,” Suszek said.

McInerney, who has appeared in many productions in Alpena, said being in “Shrek” has always been a goal.

“The musical has always been a bucket list show for me personally. I was able to see a live performance of it a few years ago in Caledonia and have been following the development of the show itself since it was a workshop off-Broadway. The soundtrack has been near and dear to my heart and playing Fiona is a dream come true. This is also my first production with RCCT, so that just adds a whole other exciting incentive to the mix,” McInerney said.

The lead character is not a typical hero, McInerney said.

“There is a line in one of the numbers that goes, ‘fairy tales should really be updated,’ and that is exactly what this show does. The traditional fairy tale always ends with the princess and the prince sharing true love’s kiss and living happily ever after. Shrek is different because it is the underdog story. It’s the villain character finally being able to be himself and show that even the most unlikely heroes can come out on top,” she said.

Suszek is having fun playing the lead character.

“I love that my character gets to be rude and angry a lot, as a lead that’s usually not an emotional region you get to explore a whole lot. My motivations for getting involved with this include the fact that I’m from Rogers City and grew up on the stage and Kendra (playing Fiona) is one of my closest friends and, even though we’ve done shows together in the past, we’ve never played opposite each other. I hate that my character has an overly involved makeup process, it’s going to look great, it’s just a lot of extra invested time,” Suszek said.

Ambitious sets and costumes enhance the production and take the audience on a journey with the characters.

“I think audiences are going to be blown away by this production. It’s an ambitious choice for the RCCT group to tackle and everyone has done a phenomenal job. The level of dedication and camaraderie among the cast alone is enough to generate that wow factor. Once all the pieces and technical aspects come together, this is going to be one for the Rogers City history books for sure,” McInerney said.

The play is suited for all ages, but does contain some adult humor.

James DeDecker is assisted by Karen Maher as assistant director, Deanna Karsten is music director and Lucy DeDecker is the choreographer.

Other cast members include Garrison Benson, Sabrina Miller, Lucy DeDecker, Ashley Nowicki, Baylee Lijewski, Robert Starnes IV, William Reese, Hope Faith, Salena Heidemann, Carly Claus, Katelyn Adair, Gabrielle Miller, Riconda Lamb, Angelee Piechan, James DeDecker, Charlotte Heidemann, Tiffani Lepkowski and Hannah Meharg.

The play runs March 9-11 and March 16-18. Friday and Saturday presentations are at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for students and are available at the Advance office or at the door.