Midland’s annual musical continues to grow with every passing year. Last year’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” had 34 cast members, and this year’s production of “Shrek Jr.” nearly doubles that.

Director Angela Ruley said she chose the production because she felt it would be a good one to grab kids’ attention.

“I have been in Shrek the musical, and I knew it was a perfect musical to grab the attention of the kids at Midland. The songs are fun, the characters are fun, and it is a great story. My goal was to get kids on stage, and this was the perfect place to start! Everyone likes comedy, costumes and humor,” she said.

Despite her initial feelings, even she was surprised at the amount of kids that showed up for auditions, with some kids having to sit on the floor. The cast includes students from all three levels of Midland: the high school, elementary and middle school.

The appeal, Ruley said, expanded beyond kids involved in choir and band.

“We have kids in the show that are not in choir or band, they just said it looked fun. That is what it is all about! It is great to see so many students stepping on stage for the first time in lead roles and knocking it out of the park,” she said.

The kids aren’t the only ones who have caught the bug. With such a large cast, it’s taken a lot of parents to help coordinate things by helping back stage. Ruley’s husband helped build the set, and a parent with sound experience is helping run the sound board. The football team even allowed the production to use their headsets to help coordinate the communication.

They’ve also gotten community support with creating costumes, along with others borrowed from various other theaters, including a giant dragon rented from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

“Costuming is always my favorite part of the show. It is the last added layer of magic that brings everything together. The kids are so excited to have so many great costumes for this show,” Ruley said.

Particular highlights for Ruley are “Who I’d Be” and the final song, which ends with the lyrics “this is our story.”

“This is Midland’s story this year, and I couldn’t be prouder. I still remember the first day explaining stage right and left, and now the Eagles are taking flight this week with an amazing show full of dancing, comedy and great singing. I loved watching these kids grow in character, grow friendships and learn they can do anything they set their minds to,” she said.

“The last lesson of musical theatre is learning to leave it all on stage and to cherish the memories of the show. Saturday nights closing performance will be bittersweet for all of us. Team Shrek has been the best part of my year as an educator.”

Midland will be presenting Shrek Jr. as their 2020 musical and will give two performances, March 6 and 7 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students in K-12; $10 for bleacher seats or VIP seating $12 for chairs on the floor in front. This middle/high school performance also includes some elementary students.

Tickets are now available at the school office.

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