Shrek and friends

Donkey (Claire Schneider, Knoxville), Shrek (Michael Howland, Norwalk) and Fiona (Sara Collins, Pella) are preparing for the opening night of Shrek the Musical at Knoxville Area Community Theater 7 p.m. Nov. 4.

KNOXVILLE — Rehearsals are coming to an end and excitement a peak at the Knoxville Area Community Theater as the cast and crew prepare for the opening of Shrek the Musical.

Performances will take place at 7 p.m. Nov. 4-6 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 6 and Nov. 7 at the Knoxville Performing Arts Center.

Similar to the 2001 film, the musical tells the story of an ogre whose secluded and quiet home is overrun by a bunch of fairy tale refugees who have been evicted from their homeland by the arrogant — and short — Lord Farquaad.

In his journey to recover his isolated swampy home, Shrek meets new friends, faces enemies and is even ambushed by love at the most unexpected of times.

While some of the music comes come the 2001 movie, many new songs by Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay-Abaire will also help tell the story of friendship, new beginnings, love and acceptance.

“There’s kind of an overarching theme of accepting yourself for who you are instead of agreeing to be categorize and lumped and put into place by other people,” Director Marty Adkins said.

34 actors from from 9-years-old to their 60s will portray over 90 characters in the musical, which is being produced by the KACT in cooperation with the Knoxville Community School District.

The iconic Shrek will be portrayed by Michael Howland, a familiar face to the Knoxville theater, most recently having appeared in the KACT productions of Into the Woods and The Addams Family Musical.

Other faces on the stage will include Troy Errthum as Lord Farquaad, Sara Collins as Princess Fiona and Taylor Decious as the fun-loving and fast-talking Donkey.

Other actors include Jana DeZwarte, Rebekah Bennett, Rachael Stoops, Goldie Feldman, RaShaun Boyer, Evie Ethell, Hunter Piagentini, Mary Piagentini, Kadyn Boyd, Jennifer Bingham, Miller Feldman, Kristy Bennett, Phyllis Boyer, Lily Steenhoek, Mya Pearson, Amiah Keith, Tanner Errthum, Chloe Roff, Taylor Newendorp, Julie Collins, Katherine Nickel, Emily Humeston, Greg May, Willow Kam, Mary Kramer, Anna Sunstrom, Carol Adkins, Chris Meyers, Claire Schneider and Josiah Woods.

Adkins recommends people of all ages stop out for the show, which is sure to stir up laughs, excitement and even some tears in a heartwarming performance of self-acceptance and friendship.

The theater’s first live performance since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Shrek the Musical did not come together without challenges.

“Community theater is kind of a constant exercise in problem solving and making things work around people’s lives,” Adkins said.

From masks and social distancing to sick days and busy lives, the cast worked diligently through all bumps in the road to put together a performance that won’t soon be forgotten.

“There’s going to be some custom things you see on stage that are a little different than anybody has ever done in different productions of this,” Adkins said. “It’s lot of creativity going on and a lot of work.”

Shannon Rabotski can be reached at srabotski@oskyherald.com.

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