Park City High School drama program dives into a fairy tale | ParkRecord.com

Park City High School drama program dives into a fairy tale

They have spent hours rehearsing, memorizing lines and laboring over choreography.

In about a week, all the hard work will finally pay off. The Park City High School drama program is nearly set to unveil its production of "Shrek the Musical," which will run from Nov. 19 to Nov. 21.

And for the students who have put so much of themselves into the production, the bright lights and a packed house can’t come fast enough.

"They’re dying for an audience at this point," said JaNae Cottam, a first-year drama teacher in Park City and the play’s director. "They’re ready to put all of the pieces together. I think we’re right where we should be."

The students have been rehearsing every weekday for more than three hours a day since the second week of school. Eileen Riley, a junior who plays Fiona, one of the lead roles in the production, said the play’s success relies on the hard work of those involved, and she’s eager to see the payoff when they at last invite a live audience into Shrek’s swamp.

"It’s a very big commitment," she said. "You definitely have to be committed and know that this is what you want to do. It takes up a lot of your free time. But it’s been a blast so far. And I can’t wait to perform so soon."

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Riley, who was drawn to the role of Fiona because "I always look for redhead roles," played in the school’s musicals each of the past two years and has developed a confident stage presence. But Cottam acknowledged that many of the other actors were less experienced. And at first, that was reason for pause.

"I really was kind of nervous about, ‘Are these guys going to be able to pull this off?’" she said. "I’ll be honest: It was only a couple of weeks ago that I went, ‘OK, we’re going to be just fine. They’re going to be great.’ There are some really great performers here."

Watching her cast go through the transformation from unsteady to rock-solid has been the highlight of the production for Cottam. She said it’s one of the reasons she went into teaching in the first place.

"That’s the best part of being a teacher, is to see them grow and go from so unconfident and like, ‘Is this what I’m supposed to do?’ to really owning it," she said. "They’re growing so fast, and you can see them taking leaps and trying everything they can. It’s wonderful."

And it won’t be just the leads of the play strutting their stuff. The production has several smaller speaking roles that are important to the show.

"That way, it gives a lot of kids an opportunity to shine, not just the top three or four kids who carry it," Cottam said.

As for what audiences should expect, Riley didn’t reveal too much about the plot but said people will be happy to again visit the world of Shrek.

"It’s very high-energy, and the music is really fun to sing and to dance to," Riley said. "I think everyone is going to really enjoy it because it’s a story that everyone knows. Everyone has seen the movie, but I don’t think a lot of people have seen the musical, so it’s a little twist that people will like."

The play will be performed at the Eccles Center and run at 7 p.m. on Nov. 19 and Nov. 20, with performances on Nov. 21 at both 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets, which are $5 for students and $8 for adults, can be bought through a cast member or at the door. Donations to the drama program are also welcome.