STORY WRITTEN BY RITA CHARLESTON
For Digital First Media
“Shrek The Musical, Jr.,” the first of Montgomery Theater’s show of the 2015 season for children and their parents, is running on Montgomery Theater’s Project Stage. Based on the Broadway musical that was based on the Dreamworks movie that was based on the book by William Steig, the production runs through May 31.
The show is the tale of a crotchety ogre named Shrek whose swamp is overrun by pesky fairytale characters. With a charismatic talking donkey by his side, Shrek must rescue a dragon-guarded Princess to regain his property. But somewhere along the way, the Ogre and the Princess, along with the donkey and the dragon, re-write the rules of love.
Michael Covel takes the role of the spirited and energetic donkey, originally played by Eddie Murphy in the movie. “I’ve taken a little from his character –his sprit and high energy – but I also bring my own energy to the role,” says Covel.
“One of the best things about this part,” he continues, “is the very nature of the character. He sort of steals the show by doing all kinds of goofy and over-the-top sorts of things, so it’s all very exciting.”
Of course, there is a down side, and that, says Covel, “is having to wear the donkey suit, which is cumbersome and very, very warm. So doing all the things I have to do can be very tiring, but it’s also very exciting and definitely worth it.”
Covel saw both the movie and some stage versions of “Shrek” over the years, so he says he’s quite familiar with the plot. “It came out when I was younger so I grew up with it and saw it many times. Of course, this is the junior version so some thing are taken out to meet the time constraints necessary for this production. But basically we follow the same story line as the original so it’s still a great show.”
And, he adds, it’s a great show for people of all ages. “Many shows talk down to kids and don’t take them too seriously. But ‘Shrek’ is different. It talks to kids with resect and dignity, making it a great show for kids and their parents.”
Covel, who is currently in the Musical Theater program at DeSales University, has appeared in several shows at Montgomery Theater. He’s also appeared in productions at Act II Playhouse in Ambler. An accomplished musician as well as an actor, he has high hopes for the future .
“The thing I like best about the theater is the sense of family you develop with your fellow actors. After hours, weeks and months of rehearsing, you get to form a tight bond with each other. And for the future, Broadway would be my overall goal. I just want to keep doing what I’m doing now while I climb the ladder of success.”