WEST ORANGE, NJ - With two weeks to go before the premiere of "Shrek: The Musical" at West Orange High School, the daily rehearsals are not for the faint of heart. The final preparations include choreography, staging, singing, acting and orchestrating the yearly musical that is larger than life. The production features a huge 50-member cast, a complete orchestra, sound, stage, lights, and costumes, with enough moving parts to challenge Bob Fosse and Amazon.com.
Enter Jay Gitter, Director, who has taken the reins on "Shrek: The Muscial" with aplomb. After replacing Sandra Van Dyke, long-time drama teacher at West Orange High School, Gitter had some pretty big shoes to fill, but he was up for the challenge. Gitter has also been a band teacher in the school district for many years and currently teaches at Liberty Middle School.
Thursday's rehearsal was a frenetic mix of singing, staging and choreography as the entire cast was on stage to nail down the grand finale number, "I'm A Believer". The musical is based on the original Shrek movie, which was a box-office smash in 2001. "Shrek: The Musical" appeared on Broadway from 2008-2009.
Gitter flew from the piano to the stage, talking to technicians, stage designers, and students. "This play ROCKS!" said Gitter as he took a moment to sit down and chat as choreographer Chuck Haley worked with the cast.
He was excited to announce that Jared Janas, a Wigs and Makeup artist who has worked on such Broadway hits as "Porgy and Bess" and "Motown: The Musical," will lend his talents during the production. With a strong cast starring Chris Wold as Shrek, Tyler Lynch as Donkey, Henry Gardner as Farquaad, and two Fionas, Victoria Estoque and Gabriella Rodriguez, Gitter gushed "I've been blessed with a dream cast."
Several members of Shrek recently returned from the New Jersey Thespian Festival at Kean University, taking home eleven awards, many for Shrek musical performances.
"Shrek: The Musical" will run April 3-6. The Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances will be at 7:00 pm and the Sunday performance will be at 3:00 pm.
Advance purchase tickets are $12.00 for adults, $10.00 for students and seniors. Tickets at the door on the day of performance are $15.00 for adults and $12.00 for students and seniors.
Students can purchase $7.00 tickets on Opening Night only. There will be a free performance for senior citizens on Wednesday, April 2 at 6:00 pm. No ticket or reservation is required.
To purchase tickets online, go to: http://wohs.booktix.com. Seating is assigned so be sure to order group tickets together. For more information call (973) 669-5301, ext. 31450 or e-mail WOHSTheater@woboe.org.