Shrek The Musical Jr
By David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori. Excelsior Primary School. Directed by Tara Oorjitham. City of Gosnells, Don Russell Performing Arts Centre, Thornlie, WA. September 20, 2023
Excelsior Primary School’s production of Shrek the Musical Jr, presented in the professional surrounds of Don Russell Performing Arts Centre, was a show bursting with love, enthusiasm, and impressive talent. With over sixty students on stage, Excelsior has produced a musical of which any school would be proud.
Simply set, the students performed chiefly in front of projected backdrops drawn and painted by Excelsior students (this school clearly has talents in many of the arts). The costumes are colourful and gorgeous and a credit to the costume team of Anna Laube-Muraszko, Cheryl Horsley and Tracy Littlefair, with Princess Fiona’s wedding dress being particularly striking.
The actors were delightful. In the anchoring title role, Ethan Forbes gave an excellent performance. In a show that ran very smoothly, everything that did go wrong happened to this charming leading man, who handled microphone, costume, and prop malfunctions with consummate professionalism. A top-notch actor with personality plus.
Leading lady Princess Fiona was also expertly played, with the gorgeously voiced Myah Silva showing strong comedic skill and a beautiful presence. Shrek’s offsider Donkey was played with great aplomb by Ethan Fairfield - very funny and possessing a winning smile.
This show has a plethora of familiar characters - all well portrayed, and while it is impossible to mention them all, particularly memorable were storyteller Three Blind Mice, Hansa Natchatra Sinthanai Selven, Vaishnavi Ajani and Kian Abmadyar, the impossibly voiced Pinocchio - Clayton Lai and the scene stealing Wicked Witch Alexandra Tang (who also played Young Fiona). The Three Little Pigs, Geet Nagra, Neave Devenish, and Katelyn Tan showed lovely teamwork while Mahi Raval had lovely bluster as the Ugly Duckling. Lovely Work from the Three Bears, Lyra Lai’s Mama Rose Mama Bear, Lochie Rigby (also great as the Bishop) as Papa and smiliest actor in a show full of smiles, Mia Seven as Baby Bear.
Villains can be tricky to play for young actors, but Henrik Seven revelled in the vertically challenged Lord Farquaad and Had Damoni brought authority to the Captain of the Guards. Not really a villain, the redeemed dragon, was sensitively portrayed by Sophie Mosey-Weate.
Special mention to the family of ogres, Suhaira Anwar, Kian Ahmadyar and Mia Liddelow, who established the show beautifully and Trae Button whose appearances as Gingy were an audience favourite.
Two ensembles were kept busy throughout, playing fairy-tale creatures, trees, Duloc residents and skeletons (and more) and were always highly energised. Fantastic smiles throughout, with some actors smiling and dancing with such gusto that they forgot to sing. Despite this, singing throughout was superb.
This very culturally diverse cast might be the most diverse cast I have ever seen perform, and I would encourage these clever young performers to seek musical theatre opportunities beyond school, as their talents would be very welcome in community and youth theatres. Excelsior should be very proud of director/musical director Tara Oorjitham and her cast and crew - this was an impressive and very enjoyable production.