Isaac Longacre as Shrek, Joseph Seitz as Donkey, and Sarah Ressler as Fiona rehearse for "Shrek the Musical." The performances are March 27-April 4 at Eastern Mennonite University's MainStage Theater. Actors in the background are, from left, Avery Trinh, Josh Overacker, Christian Stutzman, Philip Krabill, Lindsay Acker and Molly Piwonka. (Photos by Macson McGuigan)

Big Green Fun: EMU Theater presents ‘Shrek the Musical’

In response to concerns about COVID-19, all performances of “Shrek the Musical” have been rescheduled. If you have already purchased tickets, your tickets will be valid for the corresponding rescheduled performance dates outlined below. For more information about EMU’s COVID-19 action plan, visit emu.edu/coronavirus.  

March 27, 7 p.m. has been moved to April 17, 7 p.m.

March 28, 2 p.m. has been moved to April 18, 2 p.m. 

April 2, 7 p.m. has been moved to April 23, 7 p.m.

April 3, 7 p.m. has been moved to April 24, 7 p.m.

April 4, 2 p.m. has been moved to April 25, 2 p.m.

April 4, 7 p.m. has been moved to April 25, 7 p.m. 



If you already have your tickets, there is NO need to exchange them for tickets with the rescheduled date.  Tickets with the original date OR the corresponding rescheduled date, will both be accepted.

If you are unable to attend your rescheduled performance, or have other concerns, you may choose to consider your purchase as a donation to the EMU Theater Program, or refunds are available by contacting the box office via email: lynn.veurink@emu.edu.

In the case that the COVID-19 situation worsens, performances may be postponed and rescheduled for another future date TBD and will be communicated to you accordingly. 


How can a green ogre, a girlie princess and fairytale characters teach kindness and acceptance of others? Through a rollicking, high-spirited musical, that’s how. Eastern Mennonite’s “Shrek the Musical” is fun, humorous and wacky while addressing issues that challenge our world today.

 “As you watch our zany, high energy, and off-beat production, have fun. Also, ask yourself how you can more fully embrace your neighbor,” said Justin Poole, theater program director and professor of theater.

“Shrek the Musical,” sponsored by Blueline and Gaines Group Architects, runs April 17-25  in the Mainstage Theater, University Commons.

Based on the popular animated films, DreamWorks’ “Shrek the Musical” was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, with music by Tony Award winner Jeanine Tesori. The Broadway show received eight Tony nominations, including Best Musical.

Fun for all ages

The show’s themes of self-acceptance and unity in diversity align with EMU’s core practices of inclusion and community building, Poole said, and “are much needed in these divisive and uncertain times.”

The musical, suitable for all ages,  can be enjoyed for entertainment, Poole said,  or audiences “can pull deeper meaning from it. Ideally, they can do all of this at the same time.”

Junior Sarah Ressler portrays Princess Fiona. Ressler, an elementary education and special education major, appreciates how the show presents the sensitive themes “in a way that is approachable to children,” she said. “It’s been fun to portray Fiona, because throughout the show, she learns to accept others that are outcast and different, but she also learns to accept herself.”

During an early rehearsal, a challenging scene was changed in the ensemble’s interpretation of the dialogue, said Assistant Director Anali Martin, a senior English/writing studies major. “From being about alienating and other-ing to inclusive and welcoming…. the emotion that the cast brings to each scene, melding comedy with sensitive topics, has been incredible.”

Large cast brings story to life

Theater is at its best, Poole said, “when it tells compelling stories that we can all relate to. Theater can break down divides between people by fostering empathy.”

Ressler and Martin agree.

“I love using stories to teach morals and life lessons,” Ressler said, adding that as an educator,  she plans “to incorporate storytelling as a way of engaging students with real issues.”

 “Storytelling and listening to others’ stories is crucial to mutual understanding,” said Martin.

Telling the story of Shrek, Fiona, Donkey and our favorite storybook characters is no small feat. Huge puppets, moving sets, colorful costumes and a large cast takes organization and teamwork. Good collaboration is key, Poole said, “especially on a show of this scale. I am lucky to work with such a professional, talented and dedicated group of collaborators.”

For Martin, observing how Poole and the production staff work together has been a “huge learning opportunity for me,” she said, “just taking it all in, watching the process of creating a musical from all sides.”

The musical’s cast also includes younger actors from the community.

“They work just as hard as the college students,” Martin said. “The cast is really great at working together, so the chaos backstage is minimized thanks to people looking out for each other.”

The cast and crew of “Shrek the Musical” are dedicated to producing a high quality university production, Poole said. “I hope that entire families come, laugh together, and go home more willing to accept themselves and others, flaws and all.”

Ticket prices for adults are $15 ($17 at the door); Senior, non-EMU student/child, $12 ($14 at the door)  EMU faculty/staff, $12; EMU and Bridgewater students, $6. Discounts are available for groups of ten or more. Tickets are available online through EMU’s Box Office online at www.emu.edu/boxoffice or by calling 540-432-4582 between 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. weekdays.

Cast

  • Isaac Longacre: Shrek
  • Sarah Ressler: Fiona
  • Joe Seitz: Donkey
  • Lucas Wenger: Farquaad
  • Vienna Poole: 7-Year-Old Fiona
  • Miriam Kurtz: 7-Year-Old Shrek
  • Elizabeth Eby:  Dragon/Three Blind Mice/Duloc Dancer
  • Stephanie Kniss: Pinocchio/Happy People
  • Avery Trinh: Gingy/Happy People/Duloc Dancer
  • Anna Ressler: Mama Ogre/Teen Fiona/Three Blind Mice/Duloc Dancer
  • Anna Hoover: Three Blind Mice/Queen Lilian/Wicked Witch/Duloc Dancer
  • Philip Krabill: King Harold/Knight 2/Pig 2/Guard/Duloc Dancer
  • Mac Lehman: Pig 3/Happy People
  • Sam Warner: Papa Bear, Duloc Dancer, Ensemble
  • Andrew Stoltzfus: Big Bad Wolf/Knight 1/Pied Piper/Guard/Duloc Dancer/ Papa Ogre
  • Josh Overacker: Peter Pan/Knight 4/Happy People/Guard
  • Partha Roy: Sugar Plum Fairy/Happy People/Guard/Greeter
  • Christian Stutzman: Pig 1/Happy People/Captain of the Guard
  • Lindsay Acker: Fairy Godmother/Happy People
  • Dominique Kroeger: Mama Bear/Guard
  • Molly Piwonka: White Rabbit/Happy People
  • Yoel Bobadilla: Mad Hatter/Guard/Thelonius
  • Westley Hancock: Guard

Children’s Ensemble

  • Kezia Wettig: Humpty Dumpty
  • Virginia Natale: Baby Bear
  • Maren Bert: Elf
  • Chin-En: Ugly Duckling
  • Miriam Kurtz, Vienna Poole: Puppeteers

Cameo Roles

  • Anali Martin: Guard
  • Eric Natale: Dwarf (Farquaad’s Dad)
  • Brian Burkholder: Bishop

Crew

  • Justin Poole: Director
  • Anali Martin: Assistant Director
  • Jareya Harder: Assistant Stage Manager
  • Bradley Lehman: Musical Director
  • Geneval Knight: Assistant Musical Director
  • Heidi King: Vocal Coach
  • Ellie de Waal: Choreographer
  • Rachel Herrick: Costume Designer
  • Shannon Dove and Esther Tian’s first-semester Intro to Engineering Class: Scene Designers
  • Robert Weaver: Lighting Designer
  • Ezrionna Prioleau and Hailey Holcomb: Production Assistants
  • Jason Misterka: Sound Technician

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