New Palestine students take on lovable ‘Shrek’

NEW PALESTINE — New Palestine High School senior Joel Beebe — who will play the title character in the school drama department’s upcoming production of “Shrek the Musical” — hopes to make the big green lovable ogre sing and act his way into audience members’ hearts.

Based on the book by William Steig and adapted from the animated film, “Shrek the Musical” follows the story of an unsightly ogre who aims to regain ownership of his swamp. The local tyrant, Lord Farquaad, offers Shrek his solitude in exchange for rescuing the princess he is to marry. But sassy, quirky Princess Fiona is more than meets the eye. To save Fiona from her plight, Shrek embarks on a quest with a talking donkey, a singing dragon and a troupe of displaced fairy-tale characters.

“It’s going to be interesting because the musical version of Shrek is obviously a little bit different than the movie,” Beebe said.

Beebe said people will really get to know the big ogre through the show’s songs.

“My favorite part so far has been the singing,” Beebe said. “The opening song is just so powerful.”

Beebe and his 39 fellow classmates will present the musical at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday in the New Palestine High School auditorium. Tickets are $8 for students and $10 for adults.

Director Steve Beebe, Joel’s father, said he selected “Shrek the Musical” because he was looking for a big show with a big cast.

“I wanted us to do something that would get a lot of people involved,” Steve Beebe said. “I also needed to pick something where I knew I had the cast to do it.”

The fact most people have seen the Shrek movies will be a plus, Steve Beebe said. He’s hoping the familiar name will attract large audiences, too, despite the challenges of doing a musical.

“It’s tough to do a show everyone knows, particularly when it is different,” Steve Beebe said. “While it’s the same story with a lot of the same dialogue in the movie, the music is all original.”

Melissa Anness, a junior with flowing red hair, plays the part of Shrek’s eventual love interest — Princess Fiona. Anness said she was attracted to the role because Fiona is not a typical princess.

“She’s very crazy and is known as the fiery redhead, and I can relate to that,” Anness said.

Anness, who said it’s her goal become a professional actress, said it’s a great challenge taking on a role everyone thinks they know.

“Opinions on this show vary from, ‘Oh, the movie is so much better,’ to, ‘Oh, I love the musical so much better,’” Anness said. “My opinion is I love the musical more.”

So does senior Sarah Black, who has five roles in the musical, including a singing dragon.

“This musical is really a great challenge for all of us,” Black said. “But we’ve been having a great time.”

Anness said the musical version of Shrek will allow the audience to get to know the characters a little better than they might have in the movie version.

“You feel the connections between the characters stronger in the musical than you do in the movie,” Anness said.

One character capable of stealing the show is Lord Farquaad, played by student Clay Brown. The costume calls for him to play the part of the tiny tyrant on his knees, with fake legs as his lower half.

“It’s not too bad,” Brown said. “The knee pads are pretty good, and the character is just so great.”

If you go

What: “Shrek the musical,” presented by New Palestine High School.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: New Palestine High School, 4485 S Victory Dr, New Palestine

Cots: Tickets $8 for students, $10 for adults

Author photo
Kristy Deer is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3262 or