‘SHREK’: a sensational show at David Douglas High

See why many are saying this is the finest musical the school’s thespians have ever presented – and it’s playing this weekend, and next …

David Douglas High School Performing Arts Department performance of Shrek The Musical begins with 7-year-old Shrek being turned out of his home by his parents.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

For years, the David Douglas High School (DDHS) Performing Arts Department has presented high-quality fall musical play productions at their outer East Portland school. Their presentation of Shrek The Musical, that opened on November 10, is the most professionally-staged show we’ve seen there to date.

Shrek The Musical is based on the William Steig 1990 book Shrek!, and the 2001 DreamWorks animated feature film Shrek, and there are several reasons that it’s the best-ever presentation mounted by David Douglas Thespian Troupe 536, backed up by entire DDHS Performing Arts Department.

Shrek, (played by Trevor Brummett) proclaims he’s happy just living alone in his swamp.

First, the acting by all players is superb; and the principals are standouts.

Shrek, played by Trevor Brummett, carries his part with feeling and intention, both speaking and singing in a light-but-consistent Scottish brogue – a difficult challenge for even seasoned actors.

Dre Wollrabe, who portrays Donkey, gives an over-the-top standout performance has Shrek’s street-wise, gabby sidekick, utilizing his well-honed pantomime and physical comedy skills, and proving to be an accomplished singer, as well.

Led by Pinocchio, (far left, played by Sydney Yelton), a band of homeless Fairytale Creatures arrive in Shrek’s swamp in the musical number, “Story of My Life”.

Shrek doesn’t want a traveling partner, but Donkey (played by Dre Wollrabe) convinces him of his value.

The castle Dragon is a huge puppet articulated by four crew members. But, it’s Areli Chavez who speaks and sings for the creature – with breathtaking stage presence and a powerful voice, in the show-stopping number “Forever”.

Three actors portray Princess Fonia; we briefly enjoy Katie Vang playing her as a girl, and the “Teen Fiona” by Julia Archer – and as leading lady, Sarah Muller sings adroitly and acts with ease, even at one point, elevating belching to an art form.

By taking advantage of an effective stage illusion to shrink him to Lilliput size, actor Davith Thilavanh appears to relish playing the villainous-yet-diminutive Lord Farquaad.

Lord Farquaad (played by Davith Thilavanh) tells his minions he’ll become king – once he finds a princess to marry.

Music Director Jennifer Brooks-Muller leads the DDHS Orchestra, bringing the lively musical score to life.

Next, the show’s score of pop songs, with a retro-theatrical feel, provides a lively, current, but somehow familiar-sounding accompaniment.

But, what stands out most is how well and professionally the score’s musical notes – on sheets of music, on stands before the musicians – are played by the school’s largest all-student orchestras, with 36 musicians, under the able baton of Music Director Jennifer Brooks-Muller.

On point choreography provided by Sandra Shaner has the entire cast, both in intimate settings and in big stage-filling, swirling dance scenes – including a stand-out group of tap-dancing mice! – stepping with precision and polish.

Finally, the show’s fifteen stage technicians, having been trained by Technical Director Molly Stowe, work unseen – giving the production’s lighting, sound, and set movement a professional touch.

To avoid being eaten by the Dragon guarding Princess Fiona, Donkey charms Dragon (and its voice, Areli Chavez).

A modern fairy-tale story
Shrek, the Musical is the story of a hulking green ogre named Shrek, who – after been exiled to a swamp, has been mocked and feared by all he meets – and accepts his isolation.

After his green-goo home is invaded by a gang of homeless Fairytale Creatures – including Pinocchio, Cinderella, the Three Pigs, and Gingy, the Ginger Bread Man with a bad attitude, all of whom have been banished from the mythical Kingdom of Duloc, by order of the evil, “vertically-challenged” Lord Farquaad – Shrek sets out to help them.

Princess Fiona (played by Sarah Muller) is at first delighted to be “rescued” by Shrek, but wants it to play like a fairy-tale story.

Princess Fiona helps the Pied Piper to charm his tap-dancing rats in the number “Morning Person”.

At his castle, Lord Farquaad enlists Shrek to bring him a princess – specifically, the lovely Princess Fiona.

In his journey, Shrek reluctantly meets up with the hip, over-talkative Donkey, who charms the castle dragon protecting Fiona, and completes his task, only to find that Farquaad is less than honorable.

It looks as if Lord Farquaad will get his way, and marry Princess Fiona.

Some of the questions are:

  • Will Farquaad and Fiona be wed?
  • Can Shrek find self-acceptance?
  • Might the Fairytale Creatures find a real home?

Find out all the answers by seeing Shrek, the Musical.

Come see the uplifting musical extravaganza, Shrek The Musical.

Now playing through November 19
Shrek The Musical continues its two-weekend run with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on November 11, 16, 17, and 18. Plus, they’re offering two family matinees for this show – November 12 and 19, both at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets: $10 Adults | $8 Students/Seniors.

This show is sure to sell out quickly. To reserve your tickets online now, CLICK HERE. Or visit the box office on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 3:00 until 5:30 p.m., on school days. For more information, call the Box Office at 503-261-8270.

The box office and theater in the Howard F. Horner Performing Arts Center are located at 1400 SE 130th Avenue, between Stark and Division Streets.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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