North Star Theater Company (NSTC), a leading community theater in Sussex County, has taken the word ‘community’ to heart.
In the latest NSTC production of “Shrek The Musical”, the company has partnered with the Sparta Education Foundation. Directed and choreographed by Sparta resident Kelly Dacus-Smith, eleven families are involved in the production, making up one-third of the performers and production crew. Dacus-Smith and the production team have decided to create two casts, a teenage cast and an adult cast, which will perform at Sparta High School from July 22-24.
The adult cast of “Shrek The Musical” performs Friday, July 22 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, July 23 at 2 p.m. and Sunday, July 24 at 7 p.m. Meanwhile, the teen troupe will perform on Saturday, July 23 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, July 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adult admission and $15 for students and seniors 65 and older. Reserved seating can be made by visiting northstar.booktix.com.
Based on the Academy Award-winning DreamWorks Animation film, “Shrek The Musical” is a Tony Award-winning fairytale adventure. “Shrek” brings all the beloved characters you know from the film to life and proves there’s more to the story than meets the eye.
Building relationships in the community is one of the goals of NSTC, and partnering with the Sparta Education Foundation seems like the perfect fit. “The school is a central part of the community, and the foundation’s mission complements that of the theater in supporting student growth,” noted Patrick McQueeney, co-producer of the NSTC production of “Shrek The Musical” and coordinator theater.
At the auditions, Dacus-Smith was pleasantly surprised at how many families showed up, including her own family. “Being involved in a theater production can be such a rewarding experience,” Dacus-Smith remarked. “You spend a lot of time at rehearsals and it’s a great way for families to connect and share memories that will last a lifetime.”
Family was one of the reasons Andover resident Hilary Beirne auditioned for the summer musical. “I’m having so much fun being in ‘Shrek The Musical’ and spending time with my daughter, Cassia, who loves performing. I’m doing it for myself too and getting back to performing and building confidence. Everyone’s so welcoming and talented,” said Beirne, who plays fairytale character Mama Bear in the adult cast. His daughter, Cassia, will play young Fiona in the teen cast.
Other families involved in NSTC’s production of “Shrek The Musical” include:
Residents of Andover: Box Office Manager Karl Halteman, his wife, Marketing Manager Jodi Halteman, and their daughter, Eliza Halteman (Dragon/Pig 2 – teenage cast; Fairy Tale Creature/Knight – adult cast);
Residents of Franklin: Property assistant Lori Tomlin (Fairy Tale Creature/Duloc singer – adult cast) and her daughter, Skylar Tomlin (Witch/Queen Lillian/Three Blind Mice – teen cast; Fairy Tale Creature/Knight – adult cast);
Residents of Sparta:
• Director and choreographer Kelly Dacus-Smith, her husband, Todd Smith (Shrek – adult cast) and daughters Sabrina Smith (Fiona – teenage cast; dancer – adult cast) and Miranda Smith (Pinocchio – teen actors; Dancer/Three Blind Mice – adult actors);
• Co-producer Patrick McQueeney and his daughter, Molly McQueeney (Gingy/Sugar Plum Fairy – teenage actors; Three Blind Mice – adult actors);
• Stage Manager Linda Kadar (Queen Lillian / Mad Hatter – adult cast) and her daughter, Julia Kadar (Donkey – teenage cast, Knight / Guard – adult cast);
• Assistant stage manager and makeup artist Kristine Simmons and her husband, NSTC executive director and co-producer Nathan Simmons (Donkey – adult actors), and their children, Luke Simmons (Shrek – teenage actors; Pig 3 / Guard – adult actors), Ella (teenage Fiona / Fairy Godmother – adult actors; Humpty Dumpty / Three Blind Mice – teenage actors);
Residents of Sussex: Sheena Covert (Peter Pan – both actors) and her daughters, Destiny Covert (Witch – adult actors; Mama Bear/Knight – teenage actors) and Rylee Covert (Dancer – both actors);
• Costume designer Jaime Brown and her daughter, Calleigh Brown (fairytale creature/dancer – teenage cast);
• Sisters Emelia Smoldino (Fairy Tale Creature / Happy Villager – teenage actors) and Sadie Smoldino (Fairy Tale Creature – both actors; Pig 3 / Guard – adult actors)
• Layton, NJ – Sisters Junior Assistant Stage Manager Gianna Barcza and Julianna Barcza (Duloc dancer – both actors)
Residents of Randolph: Russ Crespolini (Lord Farquaad – adult cast) and his daughter, Natalie Crespolini (young Fiona – teenage cast; Elf – adult cast) and his nephew from Stockholm, Dominic Chiocchi (Lord Farquaad – teenage cast; Pig 2 – cast adult )
Other cast members who are part of the larger North Star family include:
• Sofia diPalma from Allamuchy (Puss in Boots / Happy Villager – both casts);
• Andover residents Christopher Motto (Pappa Bear/Guard – both actors) and Izzy Stevens (Ugly Duckling – both actors; Mama Ogre/3 Blind Mice – teen actors);
• Glenwood’s Blair Lanza (fairytale creature/knight – adult cast);
• Hamburgers Chris Flatt (Thelonius / Wolf – both actors; Papa Ogre / Knight – teenage actors); Costume Coordinator Christa Piper; Kelcie Rivera (Dragon – adult cast); and Gabby Rosanelli (Dancer – both actors);
• Hardyston’s Teagan Skretkowicz (Fairy Tale Creature / Duloc Dancer – both actors)
• Kimberly Jackson de Lafayette (Fiona – adult cast);
• Montague’s Properties Master Phil Cocilovo (King Harold – adult cast);
• Dr. Deborah Gianuzzi and Felicia Artrip (Elf/Knight – adult actors);
• Ogdensburg residents Sadie Biondo (Dancer – both actors) and Maya McQueen (Fairy Tale Creature / Guard / Happy Villager – both actors);
• Rahway’s Dan Burg (Pinocchio / Duloc greeter – adult actors; Pig 1 / Guard / Knight – teenage actors);
• Stephen Burke of Secaucus (Papa Ogre / Pig 1 / Duloc Singer – adult cast);
• Residents of Sparta Max Cagno (Guard – both distributions); Assistant Director AnMarie DeGiovanni; Declan Griffith (Young Shrek/Dwarf – both actors); Julianne Handzus (Guard/Happy Villager – both actors/Knight – teen actors); Kaden Kambak lighting support; Set construction John Kollar; Public Relations/Social Media Allison Ognibene; technical director Scott Rogoff; Real estate assistant Luke Scarpa; Sky Sobieski (Captain – both actors); Zephyrina Turtorro (Guard/Happy Villager); Luis Torres (White Rabbit/Knight/Guard – both actors; King Harold – teen actors); Ashlee Vissers (Baby Bear – both actors); Myles Williams (bishop/guard – both actors);
• Sussex County resident Emily Brunner (dancer – both casts); sound assistant Steve Viegas; Set construction Mike Devore;
• Wayne’s Lexi Rizzo (Gingy / Sugar Plum Fairy / 3 Blind Mice / Knight / Fiona understudy – adult cast);
• and Vernon residents Julia Chmielowiec (Pied Piper / Dancer – both casts); and Juliette Jalbert (teenage Fiona – teen cast; Happy Villager – both casts); Blair Lanza (fairytale creature/knight – adult cast); Julia Myers (Fairy Tale Creature / Dancer – both actors).
After one of the rehearsals, Russ Crespolini, who had some jaw-dropping moments as Lord Farquaad, reached out to the entire cast and production team with a heartfelt message that best sums up the North’s goals. Star Theater Company. He wrote, “It has been such a wonderful experience for Natalie and I and I wanted to take a moment to thank you all. Thank you for accepting us. Thank you for inspiring us. Thank you for being so invested in this show!”
Shrek The Musical is based on the DreamWorks animated film and book by Guillaume Steig. Book and lyrics by David Lindsay -Abaire and music by Jeanine Tesori. Originally produced on Broadway by DreamWorks Theatrical and Neal Street Productions. Original production by Jason Moore and Rob Ashford.
“Shrek The Musical” is presented through a special arrangement with Music Theater International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. www,mtishows.com.