It might be a specialist science school, but Malton School offers its students as wide a range of opportunities and experiences as possible across all disciplines. And so, after months of rehearsals on evenings, weekends and at lunchtimes, the musicians, cast and crew of Shrek The Musical took to the stage on 21 March in front of an invited audience of local primary school students. This special preview performance was followed by 4 nights of sold-out performances in the School’s Drama Studio.
Altogether over 100 students and staff are involved in making the show a reality, that’s 10% of Malton School’s community. And it really is a community event – anyone who wishes to take part is given a role in the show; from curtain opener, to technical crew, to singers and dancers, student production lead, costume design, make-up, stage set and lighting.
As in previous years, and like any theatre production, the school band provided live accompaniment for the lead singers, backing vocals and dancers. Playing the professional score to Shrek The Musical meant the band had to learn over 50 different pieces of music, all at Grade 5 equivalent (or higher). No mean feat, especially when many of the band members aren’t even 15.
The amazing set included Princess Fiona’s guarded castle keep, a collapsing shack in Shrek’s swamp, a giant pink dragon puppet, which required 4 back-stage crew to operate it, a merry-go-round pony for Lord Farquaad and an exploding bird in a nest for one of Princess Fiona’s songs.
The leading roles of Donkey and Princess Fiona were shared by Fliss and Lily (Donkey) and Emily and Eve (Princess Fiona), with Sam as Shrek, Ellie as the Dragon and Martha as the vertically challenged Lord Farquaad. And there were appearances by a younger Shrek as well as a tweenage and teenage Princess Fiona. All supported by magical woodland creatures, with starring roles for Pinocchio (complete with growing nose!) and Gingy.
A huge amount of thought had gone into the costumes and make-up to ensure they were in keeping with the film which first captured audience’s imaginations. Kay Coulbeck, a professional make-up artist provided advice and support to the team in creating the perfect stage make-up not only for Shrek but Donkey and Pinocchio too.
It would be impossible to choose a stand-out moment from the show which had audiences riveted for the full 2 hours. But special mention must go to Martha who as Lord Farquaad spent much of that time on her knees, with a pair of false legs and boots attached.
Malton School would like to thank everyone who made the performances possible whether that was providing a taxi service to rehearsals, sponsoring the show, watching the show, buying drinks and raffle tickets on the night or supporting it in some other way. Without the involvement of everyone it simply wouldn’t be possible to bring such a huge West End musical to the provincial stage.
Speaking of the band after the show, Pete Woodrow, Music Teacher, was delighted at the way the students had risen to the challenge of playing such a demanding score, “We have some very talented and very hard-working students in School who did an amazing job bringing the score to life. I can’t wait to see what they go on and produce in future years.”
Jon Lee, Acting Assistant Head of Faculty for Performance & Creative and who has overseen the whole production, was overwhelmed by both audience feedback and the professionalism shown by students, “The students have worked so hard and given their all. Shrek the Musical was the firm student choice for this year, but it is a demanding show to stage, and I couldn’t be more proud of the way students have worked together to make the dream a reality. They have shown resilience, creativity and great-team work in a show that was worthy of the national stage!”