Valdosta Daily Times


March 24, 2014

LHS’s ‘Shrek’ deserved ovations, more space

A play review

VALDOSTA — Writing a play review for a show that has already opened and closed is odd, but doing so for Lowndes High School Off-Broadway’s “Shrek The Musical” stresses the point that writing it any earlier wouldn’t have made a difference.

Make no mistake. LHS Off-Broadway’s “Shrek” was good, even great.

The show was filled with special effects from a flying, fire-breathing dragon to the detailed makeup prosthetics of Shrek’s face to a princess who transforms into an ogress to a diminutive villain. The costumes, lighting and staging were memorable and beautiful. The principals of Brandon Chandler as Shrek, Haley Aguero as Princess Fiona, Bryce Mixon as Donkey, Zach Johnson as Lord Farquaad, Casey Van Nortwick as Dragon/ Humpty Dumpty, Kimsey Aguero as Gingy/Sugar Plum and Avery Sirmans as Pinocchio were tremendous from their singing voices to their impeccable comic timing to their ability to relate to one another on stage. The entire cast was remarkable for its talent and energy. Director Phyllis Childree created a masterpiece of not only high school theatre but of theatre in general; she and all involved in this production deserved every standing ovation and ounce of applause generated.

So, with the play finished, you may be wondering, why am I telling you about this show now? I saw “Shrek” Thursday night; why didn’t I write about it for Friday, Saturday or Sunday’s papers? LHS performed the show each of those days. So, why now? Why print the review on Monday?

Because LHS Off-Broadway sold out “Shrek” weeks before opening night. In most cases, selling out all of the performances in advance would be a good thing, but given the magnitude of this show with its thousands of dollars of fundraiser props, costumes, etc., with a cast of about 50 students compared with the small size of the theatre organization’s auditorium of about 200 seats, selling out is frustrating.

Two-hundred seats available per show meant LHS Off-Broadway had to turn potential audience members away which meant also turning away revenue for the school theatre troupe which places hundreds of students on stage and behind the scenes annually. From the sound of it, lots of people had to be turned away.

It meant that in some cases, with 50-some students involved in this one show, some cast families probably had to decide which relatives could attend and which had to stay home. It meant that some grandparents, siblings, even parents probably couldn’t attend the show.

It meant holding off on a rave review for a great show until the production had ended and then spending more column space discussing the lack of auditorium space rather than the high quality of the students’ performances and achievements.

But watching “Shrek,” there were many moments of wonder for the show itself. Then there were a few moments of anger as I realized how many more people could, should and would see this show if only Lowndes High dedicated more space to its large and accomplished theatre program. Then there were the moments of appreciation that this young cast’s enthusiasm, talents and ingenuity were not dimmed by their cramped auditorium; rather, they transcended their surroundings to create the vast and magical world of “Shrek.”

LHS Off-Broadway deserves more space to showcase its talents and to accommodate its number of fans. With economics being what they are, it is unlikely that a larger auditorium will be built any time soon, but the leaders and adults of this community should show as much ingenuity in finding a larger venue for LHS theatre as these high school students do in presenting their shows.

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