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Murray Journal

Murray High theatre season to open with ‘Shrek’

Oct 01, 2022 07:56PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

This fall, Murray High School performing arts students were ready to jump right into rehearsals of their fall show, “Shrek the Musical.”

The show will be at 7 p.m., Nov. 10-12 and again, Nov. 14 in the high school auditorium, 5440 S. State St. Tickets are available at two weeks before the show or at the door.

After casting parts last spring, students were excited to begin this fall, said theatre director Will Saxton.

“We had auditions back in the spring so the kids can register for the class,” he said. “When we came back, we were ready to jump right in and hit the ground running.”

Saxton said that former Murray High dance teacher Leesa Lloyd, who died unexpectedly at the end of the school year, helped pick out this musical.

“She was excited for the dance numbers; she loved the big dance spectacle and was looking forward to seeing her dancers in that,” he said.

A former dancer of Lloyd’s and a Murray High graduate, Savannah Angle, was hired as the new dancer teacher and will be choreographing the musical. Murray High choir director Alan Scott is over music direction and Jordan Beckstrand directs instrumentalists.

Saxton said that “Shrek” was selected for its message.

“It's perfect for our students. It's a show about being yourself and being OK with who you are — and knowing that who you are is OK. That’s important for teenagers to know that it's OK to be yourself and to be proud of who you are — and to not let what other people think about you determine your self-worth. There's a song (‘Freak Flag’) in the show with the line, ‘Let your freak flag fly.’ It's all about just expressing yourself for who you are. I really love that message,” he said. “Plus, there are a lot of opportunities with lines and solos for students, so I was able to give every person who is in the show some lines.”

About 90 students are expected to be involved in the musical both on stage and backstage.

“This show is going to be fun and family friendly. It’s just hilarious,” Saxton said. “I’m very excited about it.”

Many of his students also were rehearsing for the 46th annual high school Shakespearean competition that was Sept. 29 through Oct. 1 in Cedar City. They planned to perform an ensemble piece as well as take part in individual competitions.

Following “Shrek” will be a Broadway revue at 7 p.m., Jan. 4-6, 2023 in the school’s Little Theatre. Admission is $5.

“We’re going to make it as a ‘Cafe Broadway’ so people can buy pastries and beverages,” he said.

About 35 students will select their own songs to perform.

“It's going to be all acoustic as well with live instruments accompanying the vocalists,” Saxton said.

In the spring, the Spartans will perform “Into the Woods” at 7 p.m., April 6-8, 2023 and again on April 10 in the Little Theatre.

“I've done this a couple of times, but not often,” said Saxton about his favorite musical. “I think it's the greatest musical that exists. I've wanted to do it at Murray High for years. I decided this was the year. Since we're going do a fairytale show in the fall, I thought we will do another fairytale show in the spring and have our theme for our year be ‘Happily Ever After.’”

Saxton said that “Into the Woods” is about human experience, with all of its struggles, told through fairytale characters.

“It’s about how happily ever after is kind of a myth and how the human experience is richer than the goal of living happily ever after. And that the things we struggle with, the challenges we have in life and the way we overcome them are all part of our experience,” he said. “‘Into the Woods’ is about everything. There's every experience we have as human beings is relatable to the themes and the experiences of the characters in that show.”

At the same time, the thespians will compete at region with a one-act play as well as individual events in March. State competition is in April.

In May, the student actors will perform a vignette of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” along with the student-directed one-act plays.

The abridged version along with the plays will be presented at 7 p.m., May 18-20, 2023 in the Little Theatre. A short intermission is planned for set changes.

Murray theater also has a 20-member improv team that will put on about six or seven shows during the school year and a drama club, of about 40 students, which will provide service to younger students through theatre workshops, hold social gatherings and attend professional theater shows together.