In rehearsal, Ashton Posner as Shrek is surrounded by the many fantasy creatures as they plead for his help getting their home — and his privacy — back from Lord Farquaad.

In rehearsal, Ashton Posner as Shrek is surrounded by the many fantasy creatures as they plead for his help getting their home — and his privacy — back from Lord Farquaad.

Photo by Dean Vaglia

Dakota theater performing ‘Shrek the Musical’

By: Dean Vaglia | Macomb Chronicle | Published January 20, 2023


MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Shrek the ogre doesn’t want anyone in his swamp, but Dakota High School invites everyone into theirs.

On Feb. 2-4 and Feb. 9-11, Dakota productions will perform “Shrek the Musical.” Written by David Lindsay-Abaire with original music by Jeanine Tesori, the play largely follows the story of the 2001 DreamWorks movie.

“(‘Shrek’) is about an ogre who lives isolated in his swamp,” Christian Boni, director, said. “One day, he sees that his swamp has been overrun by a bunch of fairytale creatures of all kinds of folklore and nursery rhymes … because they have all been kicked out of their homes by a ruthless Lord Farquaad.”

Upset by the new neighbors, Shrek (joined by a talking Donkey) sets out to find Farquaad and convince him to take the creatures back. Farquaad agrees to do so, but only if Shrek can rescue Princess Fiona from her dragon-guarded tower.

As Boni’s third production at Dakota and the first musical to be selected by him, “Shrek” was chosen for several reasons. First, simply put, is that the show is fun.

“I think it is a very fitting show for the group of kids that we have,” Boni said. “It’s a very fun and exciting show, especially a couple years now after the peak of the pandemic. We’re trying to get eyes back on our program and bring theater back, where that was a little bit harder to do after the pandemic last year.”

As part of the drive to get people interested in theater again, “Shrek” has become a well-known name over the past 20 years. “Shrek” was originally a book by William Steig and is now a six-film franchise — the most recent entry, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” has earned over $250 million at the box office since its December 2022 release.

Boni also has a personal connection with the “Shrek” production, playing Lord Farquaad in Chippewa Valley High School’s 2016 production of the show.

While “Shrek” is known primarily as a comedy, the musical adaptation brings more to the thematic table than meets the eye.

“I would definitely say to not let (the comedy) undermine the emotional heart of the show,” Boni said. “To its core, it is a very human show in that it is about accepting yourself as who you are, regardless of any given flaws. We all have our own hand of cards we have to play properly, and everybody is just trying to go through life and get by and do the best that they can with what they have.”

The show’s themes have resonated with the students working on it, who find it a welcome change of pace from the prior production of “High School Musical.”

“It is very different because ‘High School Musical’ is just a normal teenager show but then you randomly break out into song and dance because (characters) don’t know if (they) want to do sports or want to sing,” Ashton Posner, who plays the titular ogre, said. “When it comes to ‘Shrek,’ it’s talking about acceptance and equality through all people. I feel like it’s a more complex and intimate experience because it has a deeper meaning behind it.”

Claire Kraft, who plays Fiona, spoke highly about the show compared to other Dakota productions in which she’s performed.

“‘Shrek’ is the most complex story,” Kraft said. “All of the characters are in different predicaments, and it is just a lot more fun and humorous and there’s a lot more themes.”

Nya Jones, a three-year veteran of the Dakota stage who plays Donkey, found the show to stand out against more conventional productions like “Les Misérables.”

“It’s hard to compare them with the storylines being so different,” Jones said. “‘Shrek’ just takes a complete turn where you have fairytale creatures.”

With fantastic creatures comes the need for fantastic costuming, with one example of such being Lord Farquaad. Actor Dante Dagati performs as the squat lord wearing knee pads.

“It’s a little harder with blocking because as someone would take one step, I need to take three,” Dagati said. “I have to definitely put more effort into my movement and choreography, but it’s something I have gotten pretty used to by now.”

Tickets to “Shrek the Musical” can be purchased online at

The show will run from Feb. 2-4 and Feb. 9-11 at 7 p.m., with 1 p.m. matinee performances on the Feb. 4 and Feb. 11 as well.