NEPA Scene Staff

‘Shrek the Musical’ creates funny fairy tale at Act Out Theatre in Dunmore Feb. 22-March 3

‘Shrek the Musical’ creates funny fairy tale at Act Out Theatre in Dunmore Feb. 22-March 3
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From a press release:

Act Out Theatre Group is letting its “Freak Flag” fly with “Shrek the Musical,” opening Friday, Feb. 22 and running on weekends through Sunday, March 3 in Dunmore.

Artistic director Dan Pittman of Plymouth leads the “all-star” cast of 25 young actors and adults.

“’Shrek’ is a hilarious musical that celebrates differences,” Pittman said. “It’s a great musical for young performers because it pushes them outside of their comfort zones and helps them realize that the things that make them unique make them strong.”

Opening on Broadway in 2008 and touring the United States by 2010, the award-winning “Shrek the Musical” is based on the popular 2001 DreamWorks animated movie.

When fairy tale creatures are sequestered onto Shrek’s swamp, Shrek, portrayed by Will Block of Bear Creek Twp. and Rocco Pugliese of Wilkes-Barre Twp., ventures to the castle of Lord Farquaad, played by Rebecca Brandreth of Kingston and Caelan Baden of Taylor. Along the way, he meets the outspoken and boisterous Donkey, played by Max Snyder of Madison Twp. and Will Seijna of Wilkes-Barre. The two are tasked by Lord Farquaad to rescue the self-sufficient Princess Fiona, played by Leslie O’Connor of Archbald. Hilarity and comedy ensue in this musical about self-acceptance and true love.

High-energy musical numbers and comical misunderstandings make this the perfect show for the whole family.

Rebecca Brandreth of Kingston plays Lord Farquaad,
a small ruler with a big personality.

The cast also includes Sarah Pugliese (Wilkes-Barre Twp.), Lorcan Baden (Taylor), Emily Carey (Dunmore), Giada Gowden (Moosic), Emma Christianson (Wilkes-Barre), Milana Snyder (Madison Twp.), Ava Kulenich (Clarks Summit), Nora Simrell (Scranton), Ally Spangenberg (Plymouth), Sam Greenfield (Old Forge), Allie Katz (Clarks Summit), and Emily Nowikowski (Luzerne), with multiple family members in the show.

Shrek also includes a group of young performers ages 6-11 in the children ensemble. Kalen Churcher of Plymouth directs the ensemble, which includes Ben Gruden (Plains Twp.), Dacyn Koretz (Bear Creek Twp.), Dallas Fernandes (Wilkes-Barre), Chloe Kutney (Bear Creek Twp.), and Evangeline Gowden (Moosic).

“The children’s ensemble is a great opportunity for younger children to get to work alongside older teens,” Churcher said. “In ‘Shrek’ specifically, they will be playing smaller roles in the show.”

O’Connor says playing Fiona has been challenging and rewarding.

“The hardest part of playing Fiona is probably trying to portray her big personality effectively on stage in how I speak and my actions and mannerisms,” she said. “I relate to the story’s whole idea of becoming true to who you are because that’s sort of the point that I’m at in my life.”

Pittman noted that “Shrek” is a great show to be able to incorporate the adult members of Act Out’s family as well. Karl Barbee, the show’s choreographer from Scranton, Perry Rose of Clarks Green, and Frank Carey of Dunmore will alternate the role of Papa Ogre.

A family that plays together, stays together – even when they are bears.
From left, Milana Snyder, Will Block, and Samantha Greenfield play
the roles of Baby Bear, Papa Bear and Mama Bear.

“I am excited to be playing Papa Ogre,” Carey said. “Being in costume and assuming a character is something I enjoy. I love that I get to open the show by kicking Shrek out of the swamp at a young age and setting him on his journey.

“The staff at Act Out Theatre looks at everyone’s individuality and help them to shine no matter what level they are at.”

“People should see the show because it’s funny and has a great message. It’s also good for all ages because of its messages and humor,” O’Connor said.

Act Out Theatre Group relocated to Dunmore from Taylor last year.

“Our original location in Taylor, Pennsylvania was sold in April,” Pittman said. “We have been working diligently to create a new environment where young performers can learn and grow as artists.”

“Shrek the Musical” runs on the Act Out stage (150 E. Grove St., Dunmore) from Feb. 22 until March 3, with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets for adults are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Tickets for students and seniors are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Advance tickets are on sale now at

A portion of the large ‘Shrek the Musical’ cast gathers for a group photo.