PULASKI, Wis. (WFRV) – Pulaski High School students traveled to a land far, far away to perform Shrek.

The musical by Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay-Abaire tells the fairytale of a grizzled ogre and his donkey sidekick as they face the selfish Lord Farquaad, battle a vicious dragon, and rescue Princess Fiona from confinement in a tower. It’s a nearly direct adaptation of the 2001 film of the same name.

Local 5 News caught up with cast and crew members before their Sunday performance.

“Everybody’s so proud of this show, and they should be. They’ve worked really hard, and it’s awesome,” said director Amy Tubbs. “We just wanted something light and fun, just looking at the people that we have, we thought this was the perfect year to do Shrek, and it’s been a great choice, the kids have had so much fun. When you see them perform, they just light up.”

For cast members, stepping into the shoes of such recognizable characters has been a big challenge.

“For me, a lot of the work has been trying to replicate the iconic voice of Shrek that Mike Myers does,” explained senior Tim Huber, who plays the title role. “And I found a good balance of being able to still be myself while also having the accent and the feeling of Shrek.”

This show brought the first lead role for senior Elaina Welsing, who played Donkey. She said the role challenged her to step outside her comfort zone.

“I’d say a challenge for me would definitely be overcoming fear because this is my first really big lead, and it was different,” Welsing told Local Five. “When I got this opportunity and found out I got the role, I was like, almost in tears, so grateful. Donkey is such a big character, and it’s so fun, and I’m so excited I got to bring this character to life in my own way.”

The whimsical, fantastical nature of the show posed unique challenges as well. Nearly every scene moves to a new location, and magical effects are essential to telling the story.

“The challenge of this show has just been there’s so much scenery, and there are so many props that are ridiculous, but you have to have. You have to have an exploding bird. You have to have a deer dance. There are so many little things, but they make the show what it is,” said Tubbs.

Pulaski is also participating in the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center’s (PAC) Center Stage program this year. Local high school theater programs are able to get their shows critiqued by a team that gives feedback to directors and students leading up to the Center Stage High School Musical Theater Showcase event next May. This is Pulaski’s fourth year participating, and cast members say the program is a great opportunity for growth.

“The opportunity and the feedback we get from them really helps us grow and learn as actors and what we can improve on, what we do well on. It’s really good to hear the feedback because it makes you feel good when you do well,” said Welsing.

“Every year, we’ve been going back with a little bit more awards and recognition and acclaim from them. For the past few years, we’ve had one person be eligible for the outstanding actor category,” added Huber. He recalled performing in the showcase in 2022. “That’s just been awesome, going back down there again and again to show our stuff.”

In addition to the feedback and award opportunities, the Center Stage program also hosts workshops with professional casts touring through the Fox Cities PAC. Tubbs says that learning from theater professionals is eye-opening for her students.

“It’s so exciting to be able to say to the kids, hey, you can go work with a professional singer, stagehand, designer who’s traveling through the PAC with their touring program. And kids get to go and interact with people who are doing this kind of thing for a living, and they can see what’s possible,” she explained. “[Center Stage] has been a really rich experience for our kids.”

All in all, seeing all the pieces fall into place and the hard work pay off is the most rewarding part of the musical for all those involved.

“We know the plot of this movie, we know how it goes, but seeing this new version of it that we’re putting together ourselves, seeing everything slot together, seeing scene after scene, and watching it all become a real show is awesome,” said Huber.

“When you see the kids on stage for the first time, all in costume, all in makeup and hair, and then opening night, they’re there, they’re performing, it’s just a great great moment,” added Tubbs.

For Welsing, the community forged in theater is what she’ll remember most.

“I auditioned for the show because I love theatre, I love musicals, I love acting, it’s been a really safe community for me all four years of my high school experience,” she told Local Five.

Pulaski High School is performing Shrek on the following days at 1040 South Augustine Street in Pulaski:

  • February 11 at 7 p.m.
  • February 12 at 2 p.m.
  • February 18 at 7 p.m.
  • February 19 at 2 p.m.

For ticketing information, you can click here.