Curtain Call: Drama in the parking lot at Shrek: The Musical

As most theaters are well aware of, I do not review student or youth productions. However, because my next door neighbor, a rising star for sure, and a former student of mine were in the Trumbull Youth Summer Production of “Shrek,” I had to see it.

This is not a review of the show, which I have to say impressed me a lot, but it is a testament to the clever and talented kids who are in the show.

I attended the free night production because it was the only night I had available. Everything was going along smoothly when all of a sudden lights started flashing and sounds were blasting a message over and over again that sounded like. “Please leave the theater immediately.” I sat stunned as I watched the actors who were on the stage move quickly in character off the stage. Since many in the audience were seniors there wasn’t any rushing or pushing. The message kept blasting its warning as theater goers in attendance made their way to the parking lot.

Incredibly, in the midst of all the confusion, someone had the wherewithal to run out of the building with chairs for the seniors to sit on. I don’t know who the person was who thought of that, but Bravo! Someone was not only a quick thinker, but a kind and considerate person as well. As many stood or sat in the parking lot, we first heard that the problem was the fog machine used in the show was too much and set off the alarm. We were also told that it wouldn’t take long before we would re-enter the Trumbull High School theater.

An official car arrived and apparently someone from the fire department entered the building. That person did not come out quickly. Here is what I found so amazing. The alarm went off right at the beginning of Act Two. Since everyone was looking at the theater and waiting for news, the cast decided to entertain the audience in the parking lot. It was quite amazing. I was astonished to see how quickly they gathered together and got into formation. Then they sang and danced up a storm that thrilled the audience and lit up the warm summer sky. How ingenious was this; how smart to make the most of the moment. As if that weren’t enough, cast members then strolled through the parking lot audience introducing themselves. Most were still in costume.

Every now and then, we would get word that we going to go in soon, but eventually, an announcement was made that this particular show was cancelled. The last I heard, and I have not verified this, was that the maintenance staff had turned off the air conditioning and this prevented the fog machine from ventilating properly.

A most disappointed audience left the theater area, with many promising to return the next night. I have to commend the cast and crew for making a most memorable evening. I congratulate them for their talent as well as their thoughtfulness and wish them great shows with “Shrek.” From what I saw, audiences are in for a seriously good time.

Joanne Greco Rochman is a founding member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and is an active member in the American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected].

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