Dolphin Show begins its 72nd production Friday with “Shrek”


Annabel Edwards/Daily Senior Staffer

Communication sophomore Zachary Freier-Harrison plays the role of Lord Farquaad in “Shrek The Musical.” The show will run from Jan. 24 through Feb. 1.

Amy Whyte, Reporter

This year the largest student-produced musical in the country is also the greenest.

The Dolphin Show opens Friday for a two-weekend stint at Cahn Auditorium in its 72nd installment, “Shrek The Musical.”

The show, a long-time Northwestern tradition, has typically featured classic Broadway productions, including last year’s “My Fair Lady” and 2012’s “42nd Street.” However, producers Rachel Marchant and Brandon Johnston decided they wanted to do something different for this year’s production.

“We wanted something fresh, that would be new and exciting,” said Marchant, a Communication senior.

Johnston, also a Communication senior, said “Shrek” was an ideal choice because of its opportunities to showcase student talent as well as appeal to a wider audience.

“From a design perspective, it’s so big,” he said. “You’re creating a whole new world. Everyone had to bring their ‘A’ game.”

“Shrek The Musical” follows essentially the same story as the animated film but with more singing and dancing. All the classic moments fans remember from the film — the Gingerbread Man crying “Not my gumdrop buttons!” during his torture interrogation, Fiona causing a bird to explode when she hits a high note — appear in the production, as well as a few new gags. The dragon, a giant puppet voiced onstage by Communication junior Carly Cozad, keeps a few knights alive as her backup singers. Shrek and Fiona also launch into a farting contest mid-musical number.

“It’s ‘Shrek,'” Marchant said. “It’s a name we all grew up with. A story everyone will be able to enjoy. You don’t have to be a theater kid to see it.”

Communication junior Alex Christ and Communication senior Lauren Lenke star as Shrek the Ogre and Princess Fiona. The unlikely couple’s paths cross when Shrek agrees to rescue Fiona from a tower in exchange for a favor from the small-statured Lord Farquaad, played by Communication sophomore Zachary Freier-Harrison. 

“Getting to say you’re a part of the largest student-produced musical in the country is incredible,” Christ said. “There’s the greatest sense of camaraderie in the cast.”

Communication sophomore Chanse McCrary plays the wisecracking donkey who accompanies Shrek on his journey.

“He is a showstopper,” Marchant said of McCrary. “People are going to rave for him.”

As of Thursday night, tickets to this Saturday’s show were already nearly sold out. Last year’s “My Fair Lady” sold out three of its five shows, a feat Marchant and Johnston hope to surpass. Half of the show’s funding comes from ticket sales, and the other comes from fundraising.

“We don’t ask for much from the University,” Johnston said. “In the real world you’d have to do all your own fundraising, so that’s what we do.”

Recreating the popular anti-fairy tale on the stage meant designing elaborate sets and costumes, casting the best students for the roles and finding the perfect shade of green makeup, which, Christ says, takes 30 minutes to put on and another 20 minutes to take off.

“We spent a lot of time running downtown to different drugstores buying new makeup,” Johnston said.

More than 150 students worked on the show, including the cast, student orchestra and production team. Johnston and Marchant said they have been planning and working on the production for nearly a year.

“My favorite moment is going to be on opening night when the entire team sits in the balcony and watches the show together,” Marchant said. “Being able to sit with everyone and watch what we produced — nothing could be more satisfying.”

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