Marvelous Characters

Concord, NH,City Auditorium (AUDI). Whoever in the past has thought that children should be seen and not heard, let alone wait until the proper young age of 15 to pursue musical studies in voice or show any evidence of musical and theatrical professionalism before that age, hadn't perhaps witnessed this past weekend's fanciful production of the Community Players of Concord's Children's Theatre Project (CTP), that of Shrek, The Musical, Jr. (Music by Jeanine Tesori, composer of Thoroughly Modern Millie, with the catchy and trendy lyrics of David Lindsay-Abaire.)

Now in its 20th year, the CTP shared a cast of characters who played and sang their parts quite well given their various ages and vocal development. The overall success of yesterday's presentation is truly thanks in large measure to the direction of Maestro Tony Bonjorno and is perhaps also due to a new trend among children's theater ensembles; that of singing without a live pit orchestra, rather via a well-rehearsed and pre-recorded musical backdrop. Despite some audio issues during Sunday's matinee, however, the cast carried on quite professionally- speaking even as young amateurs.

Congratulations go without saying to leads Shrek (Jaxon Letendre) and Fiona (Shannon Mullen) for fully embracing their characters as well as perhaps to too many characters to name. The vocals of Papa Ogre (Nathan Smith), Teen Fiona, (Emily Casko), Pinocchio (Emily Vincent), and that of the amazingly well cast Donkey, Alex Strzepek should be lauded in particular, however. Equally so, Lord Farquaad (Christopher Graham) captivated and commanded his audience with his well-timed stand up (knee height) comedian style delivery spontaneously so, or otherwise. One could also say that Pinocchio (Emily Vincent) and Gingy (Aubrey Anderson) gave impeccably well paced and believably impressive comedic deliveries for such young thespians.

Many audience members noted Skylar Matthews who gave a most emotionally visual and beautifully committed dance interpretation of the head of the dragon. All of the cast, in fact, embraced the true spirit of live theater down to the minutest detail. Their success is most surely due to the veteran direction of Ms. Karen Braz. Moreover, how could the cast not succeed with the wonderfully imaginative make-up artistry of the Stuart family, and thanks to their whimsical costumes designed by Dale Osborne, and also owing to the magical and effectively efficient set designs of Kevin Belval? Christina White's choreography also brought extra pizzazz to the show and complemented an already glowing children's production. All in all, The Community Players of Concord's Children's Theatre Project shared a most delightful weekend of marvelous characters and characterization.

For more information on The Community Players of Concord or The Concord Community Players Children's Theatre Project, contact Karen Braz at: or via

For more information about the City Auditorium of Concord, or 603-228-2793

Ellen Nordstrom
Lyric Mezzo & Vocal Coach