Arts Live embraces their inner ogre with ‘Shrek Jr.’ May 4-7

Arts Live embraces their inner ogre with ‘Shrek Jr.’ May 4-7

Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, Lord Farquaad and all the other hilarious fairy tale characters from the movie-turned-Broadway musical will be on the stage for Arts Live Theatre’s production of “Shrek Jr.: The Musical.”

“It starts out with Shrek as a little boy and kind of tells the backstory of how he came to this particular place in the swamp, and it’s really sweet,” says Julie Gabel, director for the Arts Live production.

“Shrek Jr.: The Musical” is a pared down version of the Broadway hit with music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire.

“It’s been super fun to work on. I love the music to it,” Gabel adds. She points out that the heart of the story is still the same.

“The story, to me, is really about celebrating people’s individuality,” Gabel says. “There’s a song in the musical called ‘Freak Flag’ about celebrating who you are. So I love that message that it’s sending to us to to celebrate ourselves.”

For this production, actors range from ages 8 to 18 for all 38 parts in the show.

“We have some new newcomers, which we love. We love seeing new people come in and find Arts Live,” says Gabel. “There’s a range of experience levels; some are newcomers to a musical or even to a play. Some of these kids have been in multiple shows. I think the kids really learn a lot from each other on stage.”

Gabel says that Arts Live typically does three musicals a year. Last fall they put on “Peter Pan” at Clapp Auditorium on Mount Sequoyah. “Shrek Jr.,” their spring musical, will be onstage at 7 p.m. May 4-5, 2& 7 p.m. May 6at The Medium, 214 S. Main St. in Springdale. Tickets are $12 for students and $15 for adults.

Arts Live is looking forward to “SpongeBob: The Musical” this summer.

“I’m so excited about that one, and kids don’t have to audition for that. They just sign up for two-week production camp,” says Gabel. She adds that they have another summer production, “Alice in Wonderland,” that will have a two-week production camp and then a performance.

“I really love working with the kids in a musical,” she says. “I get asked a lot, ‘How do you do this with all those kids and all those musical numbers?’ I say, ‘It’s like anything else, you just break it down into small parts, and then you just put it together.”

The instruction is beneficial to the kids taking part in Arts Live musicals, she says, because it helps the young actors to discover what they enjoy.

“I started out doing musical theater, I had a music background,” Gabel offers. “That was my comfort zone — in the musicals — when I started out.” She says that theater has always been part of her life.

“The last several years, I’ve focused mostly on directing, which I really love, and I still enjoy acting, but directing to me is something that I really do enjoy immensely … I enjoy all of it, but musicals are kind of my ‘thing’ for lack of a better term!” she laughs.



‘Shrek Jr.: The Musical’

WHEN — WHEN — 7 p.m. May 4-5, 2 & 7 p.m. May 6

WHERE — The Medium, 214 S. Main St. in Springdale.

COST — $12-$15


Categories: Family Friendly