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  • First concept show pitched by student designers: a "soft book" brought to life. Incidentally, this is also the show that taught cast and crew to hate Felt with a passion.

  • First show with students designing projected backgrounds.

  • Integrated new set build system with students taking lead.

  • Student designed Dragon Puppet, based on student work with professional shop.

  • Begin tradition of including IWA teachers in cameo roles.

  • First tap dance performance.

Program Note

The final number in the first act of this play “Who I’d Be” breaks my heart wide open.  Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey sing about what they long for most, and each dream is heart-wrenching. Shrek because what he wants is so close to what he has but still so far (to be a true hero with a hero’s reward). Fiona because what she wants is something that is objectively terrible (to be a fairy tale princess reliant on Prince Charming). Donkey because what he wants is so very, very little to ask for (a single friend in all the world).


By the end of the song, the trio envision getting their wish and declare, “A perfect happy ending -- that’s how it should be!”


But this play is not about what “should be” or about endings. After all, in the second scene, the fairy tale creatures of Duloc complain, “I always dreamed I’d get a happy ending...if this is it, it blows!”


The outcasts of Duloc and the trio of unlikely friends both slowly learn about the lies of fairy tales -- these stories we tell over and over again in our culture.  From the handsome prince to the vicious monster, the musical flips the script until finally we (and the young boy reading a bedtime story who is standing in for us in this play) are ready to hear:


“You’ve never read a book like this

But fairy tales should really be updated.”


Of course, the main lie of fairy tales has always been “and they lived happily ever after”.  Not because of the “happily” part but the “ever after.” Lives don’t stop. Plots don’t quit. The narratives of our lives press ever onward. 


Fairy tales abandon characters after the “ending” or even, in the case of minor characters, halfway through the tale. Life, in contrast, doesn’t tie up neatly. It just begins again. There is a freedom in that. You can choose, again and again, to be yourself. To be defiantly yourself in contrast to the stories that everyone wants to tell about you.


This musical, even more than the movie on which it is based, challenges us all to be ourselves...big, bright and beautiful...or otherwise. No matter what the stories say.

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