“Shrek Jr” arrives on the Sevier Middle School stage

A CLASSIC TEAM. Shrek
meets Donkey on Sevier's stage. Countless hours of rehearsals
prepared the two actors for their performances.

Cassie Probst

A CLASSIC TEAM. Shrek meets Donkey on Sevier's stage. Countless hours of rehearsals prepared the two actors for their performances.

Karmela Whiteside, Yearbook Editor

Over the last two years, the theater program “Sevier on Stage” produced “Aladdin Jr.” and “Annie Jr.” This year, the group of students produced “Shrek: The Musical Jr.”. What does it take to get ready for these extraordinary performances? What happens behind the scenes to create these successful productions?

Gabrial Bates is an 8th grade student and starred in Sevier’s production of Shrek. 

“I played the green ogre Shrek,” Bates said. “He is a grumpy person that just wants to live alone in his swamp and will stop at nothing to make it happen.”

Emma Kimbler is an 8th grade student, plays clarinet in band, and has a strong passion for performing on stage. 

“I played donkey,” she said. “He is fun, really annoying, and hilarious. He’s a matchmaker and probably the best friend you could ever have. He’s really clingy, but you’ve got to love him.”

Both Bates and Kimbler auditioned because they have a passion for theater.

“I enjoy entertaining people,” Bates said. “Also, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be Shrek.”

The reason Kimbler auditioned was because acting is fun.

“Right when I step on that stage, I shine,” she said. “I’ve been in plays since before I can remember. Singing, acting and dancing are what im best at.”

This year’s play was directed by Angela Miller, a veteran of past productions, and new director Amanda Greer.

Sevier on Stage is a great tradition here at Sevier,” Miller said. “I knew from my experience directing Aladdin Jr. last fall that there were many talented students ready to perform in another show. The whole reason to direct the show is to give students an opportunity to sing, act, and be involved in an excellent production.”

Although he enjoys acting and singing, there is one part of performing on stage Bates dislikes.

“My favorite part was the acting,” he said. “I enjoy singing, but the acting is more fun. However, I do not enjoy choreography. It feels like my entire body is being micromanaged.”

Choreography is the sequence of steps and movements in dance, especially in ballet or other staged dance. Since “Shrek Jr.” is a musical, all of the actors had to dance, as well.

Up there in front of the whole school, singing and dancing, all sorts of stuff can go wrong. A voice could crack. A wrong step could lead to a fall while dancing. There are many challenges as part of a play.

“I would probably say memorizing all of the lines is the most difficult part of the production.” Kimbler said. “If you are one of the main characters, i’ts especially difficult, because you have so much to memorize and do.”

Bates agreed. 

“Remembering all of my lines was the hardest,” he said. “I was the lead character, so I had the most lines by far, and remembering all of them is very difficult.”

Even the directors faced some challenges.

The most challenging thing is that there is so much to do,” Miller said. “After students leave rehearsal, the directors are still working very hard. Creating light cues, sound cues, ordering and creating costumes, working on set, and planning rehearsals are just a few of the things directors do outside of rehearsal time.

Stage fright is nervousness before or during an appearance before an audience. It can be a serious problem for actors.

“Yes, I get stage fright,” Kimbler said. “The way I overcome stage fright is by making either myself or other people laugh, or just get used to the adrenaline of theatre.”

Practice. Practice. Practice. There are around 30 practices before the first performance, ranging from 30 minutes to three and a half hours after school practices. 

“After school, the rest of the cast and I went to the auditorium to practice lines, songs and  choreography for an hour or two,” Bates said. “When we go home, we’re supposed to work on memorizing those things for a few minutes.”

The starting point for all rehearsals is learning music and choreography for big ensemble numbers. 

“These are parts of the show that involve almost the whole cast,” Miller said. “Then we add in blocking, directions for the characters on stage, and work on scenes and musical numbers with fewer characters. Students also have to practice their music at home, especially students with big solo roles.”

Singing and dancing with your fellow classmates can lead to funny, embarrassing and memorable moments during rehearsal and even performances.

“At a weekend rehearsal, my friend and I were sent up to Mrs. Greer’s room to get a sharpie and a pack of people followed us,” Kimbler said. “I didn’t think anything of it, though. They were going up the elevator and I thought ‘I need the exercise’. I get up to the top of the stairs and I’m waiting for them, they come up the elevator and scream in surprise that I am already there.”

Singing, dancing and acting at the same time can be a serious challenge.

”For me, it is very difficult,” Bates said. “If I have to dance in a song, I’m focused on the dancing, but then I realized I’m not singing. If i start singing, I start to forget certain dance moves. So, basically, I have to switch between focusing on dancing and focusing on singing constantly.”

In the end, all of the work behind the scenes was worth it.

This year’s cast did a fantastic job,” Miller said. “Many students, even first-time students to the program, showed a huge amount of dedication and commitment to their role. This is what makes a show really fantastic.”

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