Cat Mixed Chorus presents 'Shrek The Musical'

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When the Caterpillar Mixed Chorus decides each year what to produce for its annual musical production, it always look for a family oriented show that audiences of all types would enjoy.

“Shrek The Musical” fit the bill for this year’s production about as well as any show could, said director Chip Johnson.

“This show is right up our alley. It’s new, it’s fresh and all the kids know and love Shrek,” Johnson said.

“Shrek The Musical” opens its five-show run at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium at East Peoria High School, which is the home stage for Eastlight Theatre. Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday with matinees at 2 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at the door or through the Eastlight website,

The musical is based on the 2001 Dreamworks film “Shrek” and it tells the story of an ogre, Shrek, who lives in a swamp that suddenly becomes crowded with fairy tale characters that have been banished there from Duloc by Lord Farquaad. To get his swamp back, Shrek agrees to help Farquaad win the love of the lovely Princess Fiona. But along the way, mayhem ensues.

Songs include “Big Bright Beautiful World,” “Don’t Let Me Go,” “I Know It’s Today,” and “When Words Fail.”

“It’s a very funny show, which you would expect since it is based on an animated film. It’s the kind of show where audiences will be able to just sit back and laugh a lot and have a good time,” Johnson said.

The Caterpillar retiree said it will be unusual for the normal Caterpillar audience member to watch and hear a song that is about passing gas, “but it’s all part of the fun. The audience will be seeing people they know from work playing characters that are very unlike characters they played before. For the actors, they are playing cartoon characters so it has been a challenge for them. But it has been fun watching them evolve.”

Joe Suau portrays Shrek while Jennifer Covelli portrays Princess Fiona. Jeff Craig is Lord Farquaad and Jason Werner is Shrek’s sidekick, Donkey.

The cast numbers about 35 and they’ve been rehearsing since Aug. 9. This is the fifth Caterpillar show Johnson has directed, with “Annie” in 2010 the most recent.

Debbie Smith is music director for the show and conductor for the seven-piece orchestra, of which four are Caterpillar employees. Dawn Clark is the accompanist and Mary Jo Welch the choreographer. Debbie Bloomfield was production secretary and the person, Johnson said, “who kept it all together.”

Johnson also thanked Peoria Players Theatre for letting Caterpillar Mixed Chorus borrow some costumes and set pieces from the Peoria Players’ production of “Shrek The Musical” earlier this year. The Peoria Players show was the regional premiere of the production.

While casting for Caterpillar Mixed Chorus productions are restricted to active, part-time, and retired employees, their spouses and dependents, the shows are open to anyone to see. Some, Johnson said, don’t realize that is the case.

“We want anybody who wants to see our show to come and enjoy it. Then we hope they will pass the word to their friends and family and anyone around town so they will come see it. They’ll be glad they did,” he said.


About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).