Oakcrest High School senior Quincey Hughes never acted on stage before, but when the title of this year's Drama Club show was announced, he knew he had to be a part of it.

Hughes plays the part of Donkey in the school's production of "Shrek: The Musical," set to take place next weekend.

"I wanted the part as soon as I heard about it," said the wisecracking 18-year-old. "It's definitely me."

Kim Tunney, drama director of the long-standing Oakcrest Center Stage Follies theater group, said she encouraged Hughes to audition for the part because he has "a great singing voice" and brings a lot of personality to the role.

Actually, a lot of student talent is highlighted in the production, said Tunney, the school's drama director for the past 11 years.

The show is based on the 2001 DreamWorks film and the subsequent Broadway musical version, and combines catchy lyrics, some snarky humor, a little bit of romance and some twisted fairy tale characters. The cast features 40 Oakcrest students from ninth to 12th grade as well as seven younger students from the township's Hess School and William Davies Middle School.

The younger students, all children of teachers of the school, were needed to fill the roles of Fiona and Shrek as children, and also to fill the roles of the Seven Dwarfs.

The musical is Oakcrest's big show of the year and is a both a schoolwide and community effort, Tunney said.

Besides the Drama Club, the production enlists the talents of the school's AV Club, the Art Club, the school band, the lifestyles classes and the mechanical arts department. Audiences will see original sets and scenery on stage as well as in the lobby area, which will be transformed to resemble a swamp locale to put everyone in the mood, she said.

In addition, most of the costumes were created and made by a former Oakcrest graduate who now studies costume design, and the mothers of several students pitched in with sewing the creations.

The unique costume design for the role of "Dragon" was the hook that pulled 17-year-old senior Essence Pittman into the production this year.

Although she has been an active member of the school choir, Pittman said she wasn't interested in doing plays until now.

"When I heard the part was open and the plans for the costume, I was all in," Pittman said.

The production also will be the first leading role for junior Maggie Madamba, who has been part of Drama Club since she was a freshman. The 16-year-old plays Princess Fiona.

"It's really been a challenge learning all the songs, but I'm excited about it," she said recently during a rehearsal break.

Students have been rehearsing for more than a month to present the production, and Tunney said she can't wait for audiences to see their enthusiasm.

Eleventh-grader Thomas Smith, who plays the lead role of Shrek, said he remembers the movie was one of his childhood favorites and is excited to take on the role of the green ogre.

"I think he's a very depthy character," said the 16-year-old, who has been acting since he was a freshman. "He comes across as mean, but he really does care what people think about him.

"And I get to wear this really cool costume. I can't wait for the audience to see it."

The two-hour show will have an intermission with a concession stand, and raffle tickets can be purchased for gift baskets. All proceeds will benefit the Drama Club.

Contact Lucia C. Drake:

609-272-7295

If you go

What:

Oakcrest High School production of 'Shrek the Musical'

When:

7 p.m. Feb. 20, 21; 2 and 7 p.m. Feb. 22

Where:

Oakcrest High School Auditorium, 1824 Dennis Foreman Dr., Mays Landing

How much:

$10 for adults, $8 for senior adults and students

More info:

Call 609-909-2600.

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