OSWEGO COUNTY— Neighboring high schools in Fulton and Phoenix are both doing productions of “Shrek The Musical” this week.
But people involved in the production say there’s no rivalry, and that it’s a coincidence that they are putting on the same shows.
Tom Briggs, who has been a teacher of various grades at the elementary level in Fulton for 31 years, and has been the theater director at the high school for 27, emphasized the amicable relationship between the schools.
“The last few years our school show has gone up the same weekend as both Phoenix High School and Mexico High School, “ said Briggs. “As part of our opening announcement before the curtain rises, we encourage audience members to attend Mexico’s musical and Phoenix’s musical that weekend as well.”
Lisa Spereno, the drama club advisor/producer in Phoenix, echoed Briggs’ sentiments.
“We’re kind of sister schools when it comes to musicals,” said Spereno. “We run ads for their musicals and vice versa.”
Though there is cooperation between the districts, whose high schools are 9 miles apart, neither knew they were both doing “Shrek” this spring.
“We didn’t know we were doing the same one until after we both announced it,” said Spereno with a laugh.
And they both say they’re looking forward to their shows.
“We are extremely excited about this production,” Spereno said. “We have some incredible sets and talent, as well as costumes.”
“Shrek is a great show for students with a very positive message,” said Briggs, a second grade teacher at Granby Elementary School. “Its themes of friendship, love, acceptance and diversity are wonderful and something we need more of in the world today.”
Briggs said he likes to mix up the types of shows that Fulton does.
“Another reason we wanted to do ‘Shrek’ this year is that it is a newer stage musical,” said Briggs. “We like to give our students opportunities to perform both classic musicals as well as more contemporary shows.”
“Shrek The Musical,” with music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, premiered in Seattle in 2008 and moved to Broadway later that year for an initial run that lasted into 2010.
Spereno, who has been producer of Phoenix’s stage productions since the 2007-2008 school year, said Fulton and Phoenix have performed the same shows before.
“We actually did ‘Annie’ at the same time in 2018,” said Spereno.
The musical incorporates elements from the first two Dreamworks Animation “Shrek” movies and the original picture book “Shrek!” written and illustrated by William Steig, so those looking for a carbon copy of the film Shrek might be a little surprised, Spereno said.
“The musical stands on its own,” said Spereno.
As far as musicals go, Shrek requires a large number of costumes for the show.
“Shrek is definitely a big production,” said Briggs. ”There are many, many costumes and several set changes. Most of the actors are playing more than one character. ‘Shrek’ has been one of the larger productions we have presented in Fulton. We’re excited about it, but it is a big show.”
Both school districts are looking forward to the weekend to highlight their school’s abilities to produce a quality show.
“For people who love ‘Shrek,’ it’s a treat,” said Briggs. “They have an opportunity to see two different productions in one weekend.”
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