North Star Theater Company (NSTC), a premier community theater located in Sussex County, has taken the word “community” to heart. In the NSTC’s latest production of “Shrek The Musical,” the company has partnered with the Sparta Education Foundation. Directed and choreographed by Sparta resident, Kelly Dacus-Smith, 11 families are involved in the production, which is one-third of the performers and production team. Dacus-Smith and the production staff decided to create two casts, a teen cast and an adult cast, who will be performing at Sparta High School from July 22-24.
The adult cast of “Shrek The Musical” will perform on 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 cast will perform on Saturday, July 23, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, July 24, at 2 p.m.
On the NSTC’s partnership with the Sparta Education Foundation, Patrick McQueeney, co-producer of NSTC’s production of “Shrek The Musical” and venue coordinator of the theater’s board said, “The school is a central part of the community, and the foundation’s mission complements the theater’s in supporting the growth of students.”
“Being involved in a theater production can be such a rewarding experience,” remarked Dacus-Smith. “You spend a lot of time at rehearsal and it is a great way for families to connect and share memories that will last a lifetime.”
Family was one of the reasons why Andover resident, Hilary Beirne, auditioned for the summer musical. “I am having such a fun time being in ‘Shrek The Musical’ and spending time with my daughter, Cassia, who absolutely loves performing. I am also doing this for myself and getting back into performing again and building confidence. Everybody is so welcoming and talented,” said Beirne, who plays a fairytale character Mama Bear in the adult cast. Her daughter, Cassia, will be playing young Fiona in the teen cast.
Other local families involved in NSTC’s production of “Shrek The Musical” are listed below.
Andover residents: Box Office manager Karl Halteman, his wife, marketing manager Jodi Halteman, and their daughter, Eliza Halteman (Dragon / Pig 2 of the teen cast; Fairytale Creature / Knight of the adult cast); Christopher Motto (Papa Bear / Guard for both casts) and Izzy Stevens (Ugly Duckling for both casts; Mama Ogre / Three Blind Mice for the teen cast).
Franklin residents: Properties assistant Lori Tomlin (Fairytale Creature / Duloc singer for the adult cast) and her daughter, Skylar Tomlin (Witch / Queen Lillian / Three Blind Mice for the teen cast; Fairytale Creature / Knight for the adult cast).
Sparta residents: Director and choreographer Kelly Dacus-Smith, her husband, Todd Smith (Shrek for the adult cast), and daughters Sabrina Smith (Fiona for the teen cast; Dancer for the adult cast) and Miranda Smith (Pinocchio for the teen cast; Dancer / Three Blind Mice for the adult cast); co-producer Patrick McQueeney and his daughter, Molly McQueeney (Gingy / Sugar Plum Fairy for the teen cast; Three Blind Mice for the adult cast); stage manager Linda Kadar (Queen Lillian / Mad Hatter for the adult cast) and her daughter, Julia Kadar (Donkey for the teen cast, Knight / Guard for the adult cast); assistant stage manager and make-up Kristine Simmons and her husband, executive director of NSTC and co-producer Nathan Simmons (Donkey for the adult cast), and their children, Luke Simmons (Shrek for the teen cast; Pig 3 / Guard for the adult cast), Ella (teen Fiona / Fairy Godmother for the adult cast; Humpty Dumpty / Three Blind Mice for the teen cast); Max Cagno (Guard for both casts); assistant director AnMarie DeGiovanni; Declan Griffith (Young Shrek / Dwarf for both casts); Julianne Handzus (Guard / Happy Villager for both casts / Knight for the teen cast); lighting support Kaden Kambak; set construction John Kollar; public relations / social media Allison Ognibene; technical director Scott Rogoff; properties assistant Luke Scarpa; Sky Sobieski (Captain for both casts); Zephyrina Turtorro (Guard/ Happy Villager); Luis Torres (White Rabbit / Knight / Guard for both casts; King Harold for the teen cast); Ashlee Vissers (Baby Bear for both casts); Myles Williams (Bishop / Guard for both casts).
Sussex residents: Sheena Covert (Peter Pan for both casts) and her daughters, Destiny Covert (Witch for the adult cast; Mama Bear / Knight for the teen cast) and Rylee Covert (Dancer for both casts); Emily Brunner (Dancer for both casts); sound assistant Steve Viegas; set construction Mike Devore.
Vernon residents: Costume designer Jaime Brown and her daughter, Calleigh Brown (Fairytale Creature / Dancer for the teen cast); Sisters Emelia Smoldino (Fairytale Creature / Happy Villager for the teen cast) and Sadie Smoldino (Fairytale Creature for both casts; Pig 3 / Guard for the adult cast); Julia Chmielowiec (Pied Piper / Dancer for both casts); and Juliette Jalbert (teen Fiona for the teen cast; Happy Villager for both casts); Blair Lanza (Fairytale Creature / Knight for the adult cast); Julia Myers (Fairytale Creature / Dancer for both casts).
Hamburg residents: Chris Flatt (Thelonius / Wolf for both casts; Papa Ogre / Knight for the teen cast); costumes coordinator Christa Piper; Kelcie Rivera (Dragon for the adult cast); and Gabby Rosanelli (Dancer for both casts).
Layton residents: Junior assistant stage manager Gianna Barcza and her sister Julianna Barcza (Duloc dancer for both casts)
Other cast members who are part of the greater North Star family include: Blair Lanza of Glenwood (Fairytale Creature / Knight for the adult cast); Teagan Skretkowicz of Hardyston (Fairytale Creature / Duloc Dancer for both casts); Kimberly Jackson of Lafayette (Fiona for the adult cast); properties master Phil Cocilovo of Montague (King Harold for the adult cast); Newton residents Dr. Deborah Gianuzzi (music director) and Felicia Artrip (Elf / Knight in the adult cast); Ogdensburg residents Sadie Biondo (Dancer for both casts) and Maya McQueen (Fairytale Creature / Guard / Happy Villager for both casts).
After one of the rehearsals, Russ Crespolini, who has show-stopping moments as Lord Farquaad, reached out to the entire cast and production team with a heartfelt message that best sums up what North Star Theater Company strives for. He wrote, “This 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 giving so much of yourselves to this show!”
Tickets are $20 for adult admission and $15 for students and seniors, 65 years and older. Reserved seating can be made by visiting northstar.booktix.com.
Shrek The Musical is based on the DreamWorks Animation Motion Picture and the book by William Steig. Lyrics are by David Lindsay-Abaire and music by Jeanine Tesori. “Shrek The Musical” is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International.