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‘Shrek’ hits Opera House stage

ABOVE: D’Andre Harris and Blake Potthoff as Donkey and Shrek during a rehearsal at The Fairmont Opera House on Wednesday. The musical opens today.

FAIRMONT- Today is the opening day of “Shrek the Musical” at The Fairmont Opera House. The performance is the largest community theater show of the season.

Shrek will be shown at The Fairmont Opera House July 21 through July 24 and July 28 though July 31. Performances will begin at 2 p.m. on Sundays and 7 p.m. on all other days.

This show is directed by Jonas Nissen, an experienced director who’s previous direction credits at The Fairmont Opera House include “Grease” and a Murder Mystery.

“It’s really a strong show. I’m very confident that those who came to choose to come and see the show will be very happy that they did,” said Nissen.

The musical is based on the 2001 animated comedy film of the same name, but some significant changes had to be made when adapting the film.

“A lot of people don’t like the show because they don’t like this show because they watch it and they expect the movie. A play can’t do what a movie can, that’s just not possible. Honestly the play doesn’t try to, but it’s a good musical. I was a little skeptical at first but I’ve grown to just love this play; I love the music, I love the messages in it,” said Nissen.

Throughout the show’s production it’s faced its fair share of challenges. Participants needed to step out due to personal or professional reasons, cast members were infected with COVID-19, and the opening’s proximity to Shrek Jr. meant crew members couldn’t start work on the stage lighting until that performance had concluded.

“Every show is going to have its challenges, every show is going to have wrinkles. The beauty of this is that there’s such a solid cast and they work so well together. They care so much about each other and they can handle quite a bit,” said Nissen.

Shrek features a total of 38 actors and nine members of the production team.

“It’s really been a fantastic cast. They’re a great group of people; they’re very positive and they’re very professional,” said Nissen.

The cast includes some returning actors such as Corey Shoen and Blake and Megan Potthoff, but also features opera house newcomers in prominent roles.

“They’re fresh, fresh, actors and they’re in considerable roles. They’ve stepped up, learned a lot, developed beautifully, and they’re doing a fantastic job,” said Nissen.

The production aimed to include as many members of the community as possible; everyone who auditioned for the performance was cast in at least one role.

“I’d have cast more people if they’d auditioned … we hope to do that again in the future. I really believe that people need to make art, whether that’s cooking a meal, welding something, or whatever. There aren’t many opportunities for adults to come together and say ‘it’s time to put on a show.’ This is a great opportunity and we’d really love to get more people involved. For those who have done it in the past, things have changed and we’d love to get you back again. For those who have never done it we’d love to have you come in and work with us,” said Nissen.

D’Andre Harris is a first time performer at The Fairmont Opera House and plays Donkey.

“I’m just into his whole vibe, I connect with him on a personal level, (our) humor is very similar and his character is very similar to my personality,” said Harris.

Christi Redenius plays the Wicked Witch and has been in roughly a dozen shows at the opera house.

“I played the evil stepsister in Cinderella, it’s kinda my forte to be a little bit evil. I just kinda like that edgier side of things,” said Redenius.

From Redenius’s perspective the production has gone very well.

“It’s been a fabulous production, it’s been very fun. The directors have been great, the opera house has been great, and they’ve all been very accommodating,” said Redenius.

Nissen would also gives special thanks to the parents of younger actors in the show.

“We really appreciate their parents and all the support their parents have given to the show. They have made a fantastic difference. They’ll probably never know how much of a difference they made and how grateful we are to them,” said Nissen.

Tickets for “Shrek the Musical” are available for purchase on the opera house’s website or at each performance. Volunteers who would be willing to usher or bartend can also sign up online.

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