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July 18, 2014

Theater group makes ‘Shrek’ sing

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
The Big Bad Wolf, played by Chris Kuhlman, of Shelby Township, lays his paw on Kyle Burch, of Shelby Township, who plays Shrek in Sterling Civic Theatre’s production of “Shrek the Musical.”
Laura Schwendeman, of Sterling Heights, holds up Gingy.
 

Happily ever after is coming soon to a Sterling Heights stage as Sterling Civic Theatre presents “Shrek the Musical” July 24-27.

The summer musical production, which contains a cast of more than 160, is based on the 2001 animated film about an ogre and his donkey companion in a fairy tale setting.

Executive producer Larry O’Grady described the musical’s plot as being similar to the movie’s, but with more characters and new songs. The musical also has an anti-bullying message, he said.

“From little all the way up, somebody knows and has heard of (Shrek),” he said. “It kind of just has this appeal. You also get a lot of comedy involved in it, too.”

O’Grady said the summer show will appeal to kids and adults. In addition to Shrek, Donkey and the love interest, Princess Fiona, the production also features a cast of characters ranging from the villainous Lord Farquaad to Pinocchio.

“Like ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ you have those main characters, and you have all these supporting characters,” O’Grady said. “They kind of steal the show, in my opinion.”

Kyle Burch, 22, is a Central Michigan University theater graduate who is playing the main role of Shrek. He said it was fun to portray someone very different from himself, particularly when it comes to Shrek’s lack of manners. 

Burch said he wanted to add some youth to the role and not make him seem like some 40- to 50-year-old character. He also said he tried to play the role differently from the way Brian d’Arcy James did in the Broadway version and the way Mike Myers voiced the role in the movie.

“I tried to do kind of a middle ground,” Burch said.

O’Grady said his theater group recently invested in some equipment that can create immersive “4-D” effects.

“We invested in a CO2 gun that allows us to direct fog now,” he said. “We’re the only community theater group in southeastern Michigan to have it.”

Meanwhile, the production has recruited robotics students and teachers to program a mechanized dragon puppet to blow smoke, light its eyes and move, O’Grady said.

Sterling Civic Theatre’s production of “Shrek the Musical” will start at 7 p.m. July 24-26 and at 2 p.m. July 27 at Henry Ford II High School, 11911 Clinton River Road in Sterling Heights. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Learn more by visiting www.BroadwayInMacomb.com. Order tickets by calling (586) 264-5571.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.