Weston Young Troupe presents “Shrek”

“Shrek.” Photo provided by Weston Theater Company

WESTON, Vt. – The Weston Theater Company kicked off their 88th summer season with a traveling production of the delightful fairytale and family friendly production of “Shrek,” with lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire and music by Jeanine Tesori. It is an outdoor production, and it opened at the theater’s Walker Farm facility in Weston June 22, and it is now touring the state with stops at Springfield on June 28, Putney on June 29, South Pomfret on June 30, North Bennington on July 1, Brownsville on July 2, and Rupert on July 3. All performances are Bring-Your-Own-Seating, and all are located in beautiful natural Vermont settings.

The production was presented entirely by the Theater’s Young Company, a summer residency program for college aged actors and theater crew members. It is directed by Piper Goodeve, who is returning to Weston for her 15th season. Goodeve says: “’Shrek’ is a wonderful show for the young and young at heart. And it is the perfect story for right now, all about inclusion and loving yourself and others for who you/they are. Full of funny songs and heartfelt scenes, ogres and fairytale creatures, tap numbers and moving ballads, this show has something for everyone.”

I caught the production last Sunday in Sheep Meadow behind the Windham Foundation offices in Grafton. It was a beautiful Vermont summer afternoon in a setting that could not be more fitting for a light, fun-filled musical show with familiar fairytale characters, a princess, a dragon, and a gross ogre who can’t help being lovable. Production Designer Michael Ruiz-del-Vizo’s simple, but very workable, set suggested perhaps a castle, perhaps a rock wall and a cave, and fit the imaginative staging of the action very well. Costume Designer Lily Prentue’s costumes stood out against the grey wall and the beautiful natural green mountain backdrop in the near distance behind. The basic sort of “sing along” music draws the audience in delighting rather overpowering the action.

The very enthusiastic cast of ten first presented a pre-show song and dance opening that introduced the character Shrek and set the tone for audience participation putting everybody in the fun mood that left us eager to be part of the show. The show itself starts with a crisis. All the fairytale characters from Pinocchio to the Gingerbread Cookie, cleverly done as a large hand puppet, have been kicked out of the kingdom of Dulac by the evil Lord Farquad, and they move into the swamp where the ogre Shrek wants only to be left to live alone. Shrek strikes a deal. He will go on a quest to claim the Princess Fiona from a dragon guarded tower for the Lord and gain his swamp back.

While the strong ensemble of actors were all of high caliber, special mention should go to Eli Hamilton as Shrek, to his “second banana” and donkey traveling companion on his quest, Tomias Robinson, who was strong enough to be the “first banana,” and Emma Diner, returning to the Young Company for her second year, as a strong voiced and engaging Princess Fiona.

There is definitely a contemporary spin to the tale, and it is a celebration of diversity. All the characters are misfits looking for acceptance. One says, “What makes us special, makes us strong”. And that is a fine message for a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

The show is presented free, though reservations are required. Reservations are available online at www.westontheater.org or by calling 802-824-5288.


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