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NMS Students Prepare For ‘Shrek The Musical Jr’ Opening Next Week



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Newtown Middle School’s production of Shrek the Musical Jr is set to open Friday, May 17. Performances will be staged in the middle school, 11 Queen Street, with evening performances at 7 pm May 17-18 and matinee performances at 2 pm May 18-19.

Tickets are $10 and are available for purchase online at newtownms.booktix.net. Newtown senior citizens are also invited for a free senior tea and preview performance on Thursday, May 16. Dinner will be served at 4 pm, while the show will start at 5 pm.

Shrek the Musical Jr follows the story of the iconic hit Dreamworks film, where the grumpy ogre Shrek sets out to confront the evil, self-absorbed Lord Farquaad after he banishes fairytale characters to his swamp. When Shrek sets off alongside a wisecracking donkey to confront Farquaad, he lands himself a deal: if he rescues the feisty Princess Fiona, he will have the swamp to himself again.

The show is co-directed by dance educator and WCSU adjunct professor Jen Turey and Newtown High School teacher Janice Gabriel. Others helping out include Bethany Cruson as the producer, Ryan Loucks as the musical director, Marie Armstrong and Turey as the costumers, and Carrie Battaglia as the parent volunteer coordinator. Turey is also the choreographer while Gabriel is also the technical director.

Gabriel said she picked Shrek the Musical Jr because she thinks it is a super fun show with a great message and lots of different roles for students.

“I think one of the best things about Shrek is its message, you know, of embracing your individuality and what people perceive as flaws,” Gabriel said. “And it’s just a fun show.”

The show having a lot of parts was really important to Gabriel, as she said they are always looking, especially at the middle school level, to get kids involved and interested in musical theater. She hopes that shows like this help foster that passion for musical theater and keep that momentum going into high school and beyond.

“We want to make sure that we can get as many kids involved as possible that want to be a part of theater, so this way when they go on to the high school, they have the opportunity to be involved as well,” Gabriel said.

Gabriel went on to say that, over the past ten years she has been doing this, there is nothing like seeing her student’s confidence grow. To her, seeing her students come into their own through working with others and performing on stage is an incomparable feeling.

“You know I always say to others that people go and wait a lifetime to see their favorite actors on stage, but that I get to work with mine all the time because they end up being my favorite performances and performers. There’s really nothing like it,” Gabriel said. “It’s incredible what they can do.”

Reporter Jenna Visca can be reached at jenna@thebee.com.

Newtown Middle School students rehearse Shrek the Musical Jr in the school’s auditorium on Monday, May 6. The NMS production will kick off with a senior citizen preview on Thursday, May 16, with public performances starting the following night. —Bee Photo, Visca
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