Auburn Community Players has, in its three-year existence, made quite a name in the area of community theater. Their summer youth theater productions – Alice in Wonderland, Willy Wonka, and Little Mermaid – have attracted performers from all over Central Mass. The summer teen theater program has come along a bit more slowly. Their first production was You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, which had a cast of just six. Last year’s performance of Schoolhouse Rock had a few more people, but was still a relatively small production.
Both of these shows were staged outdoors at the Riley-Pappas Pavilion at the Pappas Recreation Complex. “It’s lovely, and great for music” said ACP director Christine Taylor. “But it can be a tough place to perform and to stage a play.”
Taylor has a pretty good basis for comparison, having spent nearly her entire life in and around theater as a performer, director and, most recently, the owner (with husband, Scott) of Stageloft Repertory Theatre in Sturbridge.
The 2015 summer theater program is a breakthrough year for the Players. Working with Auburn High School music instructor Virgina Bailey – herself an accomplished director and musician – and moving the production to the Auburn High School Auditorium, ACP is producing a fully staged version of Shrek: the Musical that will delight thater-goers.
The first change is that the program is not limited to high school performers as in the past. “This is a true community theater production” said Taylor. While most of the performers are younger, there is a range of ages and experience levels in this cast. A number of the performers were drawn through their experiences with Taylor at Stageloft. Others heard of the production through word of mouth. However they ended up in Auburn, it’s ACP’s gain.
Walking into the rehearsal last Monday to take some photos, I was immediately impressed with the singing and acting. Josh Raymond (Shrek), Alexandria Richards (Princess Fiona) and Zach Taylor (Donkey) have great chemistry, making for some very entertaining scenes. Isabella D’Annunzio (Dragon) and Isaac Swanson (Lord Farquaad) are also immensely talented performers whose scenes will blow you away.
Beyond the acting, the staging will also be a step beyond what has been done in the past. Because the AHS auditorium has the technology available, the lighting, sets and projections are first rate, giving you a sense more of being in a city theatre district than at Auburn High.
The entire cast of performers can be found below.
There are two performances of the show this weekend. Friday and Saturday evening performances are both at 7pm, and tickets are available at the door (cash only).
Date: Friday August 21 and Saturday August 22
Time: 7pm both nights
Where: Auburn High School Auditorium
99 Auburn St.
Cost:$5 children/$10 adults cash only at the door