RFA Presents Shrek The Musical

RFA Presents Shrek The Musical - June 3, 4, & 5 7:00pm via online streaming
Posted on 06/02/2021
Shrek the Musical

Rome Free Academy will present Shrek The Musical June 3, 4, and 5 at 7:00pm via online streaming.  Tickets are $10.00 and are available at https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/52197.  More information regarding the performance and online streaming is available at http://tiny.cc/RFAShrekFAQ.


Nominated for eight Tony Awards and twelve Drama Desk Awards, Shrek The Musical is based on the beloved 2001 DreamWorks Animation film. Set in a mythical 'once upon a time' sort of land, it tells the story of an ogre who finds his reclusive life disrupted by an invasion of annoying fairytale characters banished from their kingdom from the evil Lord Farquaad. With the help of his trusty friend Donkey, Shrek embarks on an adventure that will change his life forever.

Shrek is such a great show, both because of its themes and its score,” says Director Jake Meiss.  “It has a lighthearted spirit, important and heartwarming themes, and truly beautiful music.  It really stood out as the best choice for this year once we were approved to produce a show.”

Meiss continues, “From the beginning of this school year, we knew we wanted to do some kind of musical performance – even if it was all pre-recorded, or via Zoom or Google Meet.  We brainstormed different ideas, but nothing seemed possible as we went through phases of being fully remote, hybrid learning in cohorts, back to fully remote. But in early February, as winter sports and other activities were approved, there was a glimmer of hope. At every step of the process, we were cautious - we didn’t want to start work on another show only to have it taken away from us like Newsies in 2020. But when we got the green light to start in-person work on a 2021 show, the production team sprang into action.  Fortunately, we have a team of great students and staff that was able to make Shrek happen in a pretty limited time frame – only about three months from start to finish.”

Coronavirus precautions came into play both with casting the show and locating the pit orchestra.  “The production staff did some research and set some ground rules to comply with health guidelines and make the experience as safe as possible for everyone involved,” notes Meiss.  Staff performed health screenings at in-person rehearsals and made sure students did not share any costume pieces, props, or microphones.  Students remained at least three feet apart while wearing masks and speaking or dancing, at least six feet apart while wearing masks and singing, and at least twelve feet apart while singing without a mask.  Wind instrumentalists utilized specialized playing masks and instrument bell covers and remained at least six feet apart as well.  

Spacing restrictions also meant that for the first time in RFA Musical history, there would be a limit set on the number of students who could participate.  To maximize this number, the orchestra pit remained covered and instrumentalists were relocated to the wing backstage.  Another creative solution included allowing several multi-talented students to pull double-duty singing, dancing and acting in some songs while playing instruments in others. 

When asked about the challenges during this year’s process, Meiss admits that there were multiple hurdles that the production staff had to tackle head-on, including shipping delays and quarantining of cast members.  “Everyone worked round-the-clock to make adjustments as various issues arose.  But it was all worth it when our students got to experience the rush of live performance for the first time in over a year.”

“We were grateful to share the show with a limited in-person audience of family and friends a couple of weeks ago, and now we’re excited to be able to share it with even more people online,” continues Meiss.  “Shrek is a great show with humor for the whole family.  It’s a fun bit of escapism that we all needed this spring.  But that’s not all – it’s also an inspirational story of friendship, acceptance, connection, and having pride in who you are.”

Shrek The Musical features Ethan Vernold as Shrek, Taylor Griffin as Princess Fiona, Zach Swistak as Donkey, Jake Cosentino as Lord Farquaad, Henry Dutt as Pinocchio, Mariah Taylor as Dragon and Abbie Morgan as Gingy.  They are joined by an ensemble featuring Michaelanne Allen, Olivia Bauer, Teddy Beeman, Liam Butler, Joanna Cornell, Isabella Davis, Chandni Desai, Cooper Engelbert, Connor Evans, Nirvana Fezza, Lily Fleming, Zoe Fragapane, Sharmayne Gambrel, Haley Gatley, Joey Gazzilli, Caitlyn Hampe, Sydney LaSalle, Robin Litts, Mel Maneen, Kayleen Martelli, Mateo Mays, Dakota Morrison, Riley Muldoon, Jordan Purrington, Brooke Quinn, Elaina Smaldon, Sara Swistak, Michael Sylvester, Lauren Taylor and Karabrie Wiggins. 

Students in the pit orchestra include Brandon Bright, Chandni Desai, Lily Fleming, Sharmayne Gambrel, Alex Linderman, Kayleen Martelli, Alexa Platis, Adelina Rivera, Enrique Rivera, Rafael Rivera, Madison Short, Sara Swistak, Mallory Tikalsky and Sven van Hoesel. They are joined by Leanna Guerrieri on keyboard, Alex Zappavigna on bass, Patrick O’Neil on drums, Aaron Decker on percussion and Christian Arthur on guitar.

Student crew members include stage manager Elena Davis, lighting assistant Colyn Seeley, and sound assistant Nito Davis.  

With music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, Shrek The Musical is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International. It was originally produced on Broadway by DreamWorks Theatricals and Neal Street Productions in 2008.


For more information on the show, in-depth interviews with the cast and staff, and feature stories on choreographing, directing, and staging a musical during the time of coronavirus, please visit the @RFAmusical Facebook page  

Photos courtesy of Danielle Platis.
Zack Swistak as Donkey
Zack Swistak as Donkey
Taylor Griffin as Princess
Taylor Griffin as Princess Fiona

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