More than 30 student actors took the stage at the Flagler Playhouse this weekend for the four-show run of “Shrek the Musical Jr.” The production, directed by Pat Love with musical direction and choreography by Ann Paris, was the culmination of an intensive three-week musical theatre camp experience.
But this production was unlike any other; and while the students rocked it on stage, the volunteers rocked it in the costume room.
“This is one of those productions that we absolutely could not have done it without the volunteers because ‘Shrek’ is so costume heavy and prop heavy, and over the summer it is extraordinarily difficult to get volunteers,” Love said. “We wanted to make it convenient for the children, which means camp was during the day, when most of our volunteers are working during the day.”
But that didn’t stop Ed Aversa and his team of costume volunteers from getting the job done. Aversa joined the playhouse team three years ago, when he choreographed “Fiddler on the Roof,” and is now learning the ropes of costuming.
“I taught Ed how to sew,” said Judith Mitchell, an experienced tailor, who works with the playhouse. “But he’s more of a craftsman; he builds masks.”
Masks, wigs, fat suits and props were in no shortage for this production.
“In a normal play, you have a person assigned to a role,” Aversa said. “In this children’s show, you have ages 8 to 16 and instead of having one role, one costume, we have some kids that are doing five different roles from major roles to ensemble roles, which means quick changes for them — costumes that can be taken off offstage and then put back on. So our cast of about 33 has multiplied times four or five for costumes.”
Costume volunteers range from experienced seamstresses to mothers and grandmothers of actors.
“Volunteers are the blood supply to community theater — without them, you can’t do it,” Aversa said.
During the intense three-week program, the students in the camp not only learned their lines and stage cues, but they also learned responsibility.
“These kids are given a costume, and it’s not Halloween where they wear it for one night,” Aversa said. “It has to be sustained, it cannot be lost, cannot be damaged, and they’re learning that it’s not a toy.”
For Love, seeing the volunteers step up was a reinforcement that the theater belongs to the community.
“It belongs to everyone,” she said. “And the people who come here and volunteer are the people that own the theater.”
Shrek: Trevor Dunham
Donkey: Gerald Kitt
Fiona: Cassidy Van Brink
Farquaad: Austin Branning
Pinocchio: Haleigh Henegan
Teen Fiona: Abigail Andrade
Young Fiona: Melissa Guzman
Gingy: Molly Maresca
Papa Orge: Nick Aiello
Big Bad Wolf: Nick Auletti
Papa Bear: Samantha McBride
Captain of the Guard: Abby Franklin
Wicked Witch: Amy Raleigh
Storyteller: Tyja VanHook
Storyteller: Summer Wenz
Storyteller: Emily Orozco
Ensemble: Savanna Dacosta
Ensemble: Bianca Guzman
Ensemble: Ja’Caya Dukes
Ensemble: Briana Jacobs
Ensemble: Kyleigh Ruddy
Ensemble: Kristina Mercado
Peter Pan: Cannon Dowda
Baby Bear: Kayla Mercado
Ugly Duckling: Klara Acierno
Mama Bear: Mary Blair