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Students almost ready for ‘Shrek’ [with gallery]

Production is collaborative work of county high schools

The Covington County School system’s collaborative production of “Shrek the Musical” is giving students from the county schools an opportunity in the arts they would not have otherwise, director and Pleasant Home School drama and English teacher Jennifer Withrow said.

“For us to not have choir programs in the high schools, these kids sound phenomenal,” Withrow said. “They are so talented. Aside from elementary music, we don’t have high school music at all in the county high schools.”

Withrow said that the students are shining with happiness because they get to do something that normally they wouldn’t have the opportunity to do.

“They absolutely love it,” Withrow said. “To be able to give them this opportunity is what I am here to do. That is why I am a teacher. This is what life is about.”

The group of students has practiced every Saturday since the first weekend in January to prepare for the show.

“It has been a challenge to get the logistics down, since all of the kids are from different schools,” Withrow said. “We just have very committed kids thankfully.”

All four of the high schools in the county system are represented in the musical. Withrow said it’s been a great experience working with such a diverse group of kids.

With the show being only almost two weeks away, Withrow said that they are on schedule. 

“Every rehearsal we feel a step better than when we started,” Withrow said. “The entire cast just sounds amazing together. The ensemble has about four really strong songs together so I am really excited.”

Along with singing and dancing, the students are also a part of the design crew, helping build the set for the show.

“The set design is being coordinated by teachers from Straughn and Red Level,” Withrow said. “There are really three of us at different schools trying to coordinate everything. The kids are building all of the set as well. We are trying to incorporate as much art as we can because we don’t have designated art teachers either, so we feel like it is important to immerse them in as much art as we can.”

Withrow said that the musical is a fast-paced, humorous show that will keep the audience wanting to watch.

“The costuming is fun and energetic,” Withrow said. “I honestly don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy Shrek and it is very similar to the movies. It is just the story of Shrek with lots of singing added in there.”

J.D. Hudson from Florala High School is cast in the lead role. He said that he decided to audition for the musical because Shrek is one of his favorite things ever.

“I honestly really like acting,” Hudson said. “I was on the worship team at Abundant Life, so that is where I sing most of the time.”

Hudson said that the best thing about the rehearsals is meeting new people.

“There is so much to do with this performance,” Hudson said. “We have a lot of fun though.”

Being able to immerse himself in the Shrek character is something that he finds enjoyable.

“It is always fun to be able to act out a certain character,” Hudson said. “I’m also pretty excited to be painted green.”

Ivy Griggs from Red Level High School is playing the part of Princess Fiona. She auditioned because she enjoys acting.

“I actually went to acting classes when I was younger,” Griggs said. “I just really like to act.”

Griggs said that hanging out with the people in the show is her favorite part about the rehearsals.

“We all hang out all of the time,” Griggs said. “Even when we aren’t rehearsing we are hanging out so that has been fun.”

She said that she enjoys playing Fiona because she connects with her.

“I just love how she is an improper princess,” Griggs said. “She tries really hard to be the right type of princess, but it just doesn’t work.”

Katherine Morris from Pleasant Home School, who is playing Donkey, actually talked Withrow into choosing “Shrek the Musical” for the performance.

“Back in April, we took a trip to Montevallo with our theatre group,” Morris said. “I spent the entire bus ride, three hours, convincing her to do this show. She was really skeptical at first, but three hours later, she was all for it. I knew I had to audition once she agreed to do it.”

Morris knew that she wanted to play Donkey because she said she is exactly like him.

“Donkey and I have a lot in common,” Morris said. “I have a very short attention span and so does Donkey, so I just really relate to my character. I am also really bad about just saying what I am thinking and so is Donkey, so I think this is the perfect character for me.”

Straughn High School senior Abigail Holland was doing her Lord Farquaad impression as a joke when she landed the role.

“It’s pretty funny because I’m like 4’10” and he is like four feet,” Holland said. “So I kept on saying ‘Wouldn’t it be hilarious if I was Farquaad in this show,’ next thing I know Mrs. Withrow asked me to call her and audition for it. At first it was like a joke, but then I was actually on the phone with her doing the audition.”

She said that learning the choreography has been the best part so far about the show and she is excited to look fabulous as Lord Farquaad.

“I have really enjoyed learning all of the choreography,” Holland said. “I also love that I get to be super arrogant as Lord Farquaad. I just get to be mean to everybody and look fabulous at the same time.”

Shrek the Musical will be March 8, at 7 p.m., and March 9, at 5:30 p.m., at the LBW Community College Dixon Center Theatre.

Tickets will be available for purchase at any Covington County School beginning on Wednesday of this week. Tickets are $10 per person, first come first serve.