Local students bond through ‘Shrek’ musical

Students from all over Sampson County are putting the final touches of bringing a popular film character from the big screen to Hobbton High School’s big stage.

“Shrek,” The All-County Musical, is scheduled for Saturday, May 23. The first show is scheduled for 2 p.m., with a second show following at 6 p.m., at the school, 12201 Hobbton Highway, Newton Grove.

Coleman Simpson, Lakewood High School senior, says he is looking forward to stepping into the spotlight to play the green ogre, which is allowing him to expand his acting ability.

“It’s really fun,” Simpson said. “It’s a new challenging role because I’m used to being able to do very comedic, optimistic kind of characters. Now I’m having to do something that’s kind of darker.”

He will join about 50 public and home-schooled students throughout Sampson County, who are all involved in the play. A few children from Hobbton and Sunset Avenue elementary schools are helping as well.

Director Angela Martin, a theater arts instructor at Hobbton High School, said it’s her second time hosting a musical with students from different schools. Last year, she was in charge of “Seussical,” which was based on the books of Dr. Seuss.

“I decided to make it all-county just to give the students of Sampson County the opportunity to participate in one of my productions here,” Martin said. “We had a lot of interest and I accepted everyone that came. Everyone has their parts and we’re getting along great.”

According to Martin, the rehearsals for the production began in late March.

The storyline is similar to the movie character and the upcoming production will be adapted from the Broadway version of “Shrek The Musical.”

“If you’re familiar with the movie, you’re going to be very familiar with the characters that are in the production,” Martin said.

Ty McMillan is playing the talkative and energetic Donkey. The junior at Hobbton High School junior said he’s really grateful to participate in the musical.

“It’s going to be a really great show because we put a lot of hard work towards it,” McMillan said.

Like others, McMillan said he was challenged to remember his lines and correct positions on stage, however, the student admits he is not a novice when it comes to the stage.

“Some of the best things about it is being able to work with your friends and have a good time,” McMillan said.

Simpson said he became involved in acting through Martin, who asked him to be a narrator for “101 Dalmatians,” in elementary school.

“It was something so fun and creative,” Simpson said about theater providing another outlet. “I’ve been doing it every since.”

The Lakewood students says he enjoys developing a sense of empathy towards people while interacting with other student-actors.

“It’s really an eye-opening experience and it helps me develop to become a better person overall,” he said. Just rehearsing in general, it’s always great to work with different people. I’ve made so many great friends. It’s a really great experience overall.”

Martin says she believes students such as McMillan and Simpson have developed a sense of family and closeness while preparing for the big show.

“They unite together for a common goal, but they also develop a lot of self-esteem,” Martin said. “They really have that closeness knowing that they’re putting something together for an audience.

Collectively, Martin said they are working to become a team by participating together, regardless of their backgrounds.

“It doesn’t matter if you play sports, in the band or you’re really into your studies, all different types of people are involved,” Martin said. “I have a variety of people from different backgrounds.”

One of the challenges of forming the team, was dealing with schedules and students traveling from different areas. But one of the many bright sides is working with students from Sampson Community Theatre.

“A lot of them have had the opportunity to be in shows there, so this is kind of a continuation,” Martin said.

While mentioning the work of the students, Martin said the colorful show can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

“When you see a show that’s a high school production, there is so much energy on stage,” Martin said.

Tickets are $10 and will be sold until the day of the play.

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