Summer campers perform ‘Shrek: The Musical Jr.’ at North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts
Eighteen days – that’s how long it took to put on the North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts summer production of “Shrek: The Musical Jr.”
The school’s summer arts camp presented the program as the perfect grand finale of the camp, with three performances, two on Thursday (including an afternoon show for the summer camps) and the final show Friday in front of a nearly full house of family and friends.
In the end, it came off as well as shows that have taken months to pull off, such as the North Fort Myers High School production of the show three years ago.
“The show was fantastic. I’m so proud of these kids. If you love what you’re doing, you can accomplish anything,” said director Amy Massari, whose family helped make this production go off without a hitch. “We were efficient, working six days a week with long hours.”
It all started on June 5 with two days of auditions before a cast of 60 kids, many of whom played two or three different characters, rehearsed with laser focus, knowing that time was not their friend.
In that time, over 11 rehearsals, they had to learn their lines, the choreography of the musical numbers, have the sets, sound and lighting ready.
For the stars of the show, that meant a ton of work. Caleb Massari, who played Donkey, said it was the direction of his mom that got everyone through.
“It was tough, but once you get used to learning lines, it gets easier. We worked seven hours a day during the week,” Massari said. “I thought we did well. It was a good show.”
Kagan Vann, 14, who played Shrek, the cranky ogre, in his final performance at the school he went to in third grade, said it was the work of the teachers and choreographers that made all three performances great.
“We had to work together. We couldn’t goof around or we wouldn’t have been able to do this. We were focused,” said Vann, who along with Tim Chason auditioned for the main role. “This is the last show I’m doing at this school and I love it. It’s fun.”
Perhaps the toughest role went to Cadence Dobson, who played Princess Fiona, who, toward the ends has to go from being human to an ogre herself in a matter of minutes.
“It was pretty hard, but the costumers here are so amazing. We were going crazy with the prosthetics and the paint, but they did an amazing job,” said Dobson, who, along with Vann will attend North High in the fall. She added the range was a real challenge.
“You have to be sweet at times and really mean at others,” she said.
In spite of all the craziness over the last three weeks, it was all worth it.
“It’s such a fun experience. It’s great to work with everyone. It was tricky, but we pulled it off,” Dobson said. “It’s hard with your friends around, but we focused hard to get into character.”