Hawaii Children’s Theatre deserves a standing ovation for its production of “Shrek The Musical” that wrapped up with its final performance Sunday at Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall. Those who saw it were rewarded with outstanding song, dance and choreography, not to mention a cast with comedic timing and a gift for engaging its audience. From the opening scene to the closing number when all the cast came together on stage for an unforgettable version of “I’m a Believer,” director Marly Madayag and her team guided what was essentially a professional show with live orchestra. It’s a tribute to this organization’s dedication, determination and discipline they were able to pull together something so grand with limited funds. Such was the quality that it was something one might expect to see in New York.
While the entire cast shined, there were a few who stood out. Robert Carrasco (Shrek) Isaac Worth (Donkey), Jennifer Downs (Fiona) and Ross Martineau (Farquaad) were as good as anyone could have expected. Each of these folks has the voice, the humor, and the stage presence to carry a show on their own, but they shared the spotlight equally well. The way they played off each other, the way they connected with the crowd, was nothing short of exceptional. With a running time of around 2 and a half hours, Shrek The Musical still managed to hold the attention of an audience that included many children — and that in itself is amazing and a testament to the show’s direction.
The folks behind the scenes rarely get much credit for all they do to make a show succeed. But we would be remiss if we didn’t give credit to stage manager Bailey Hutton, musical director Nina Saraos, choreographer Carol Culver, costumer Kathy Leonard, and Alexandria Taogoshi, handling specialty hair and makeup. The sets that included puppets, dragons, a giant horse, trees and even a castle and technical effects were created by Brooke Morgan, Esther Manning, Brenda Biehler, Jarhett Gaines, Steve Whitney, Arnoud Teersteg and many volunteers.
A musical with the quality of Shrek The Musical is difficult and expensive to pull off. We’re talking hundreds of donated hours from people who do it all for the love of the theater and a love to develop young talent on Kauai. Kauai is fortunate to have an organization such as HCT. It’s success can be traced to strong contingent of longtime volunteers, including Ron Horoshko and Debra Blachowiak.
The community should take pride in Hawaii Children’s Theatre. Even better, the community should support HCT. This nonprofit is a benefit, not just to those involved, but to our community. Volunteers are always welcome and will be rewarded with memories to last a lifetime. Financial support is available simply by buying an ad in the playbill, donating prizes or sponsoring of a set piece.
And to HCT, please take a final bow for “Shrek The Musical.” It is well deserved.