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Patriot Players go big for ‘Shrek’

With a huge touring set once used in New York, facial prosthetics on the main character and around 50 costumes, “Shrek: The Musical” is shaping up to be one of the biggest events in theatre performed in Martinsville/Henry County.

The Patriot Players at Patrick Henry Community College open “Shrek: The Musical” on Thursday, May 29 at 7 p.m. in Walker Fine Arts Theatre at PHCC. Devin Pendleton, artistic director of Patriot Players and director of “Shrek,” said all the work put into the show is for PHCC and the community.

“The more we increase the production value of our shows and the more we put into this program only helps us generate more interest from the community,” he said. “Theatre teaches you so much – responsibility, confidence, commitment – and anyone can get involved.”

The company providing Patriot Players with the set, Chinchilla Theatrical Stage and Sound, delivered the set from Georgia, and it will travel to South Carolina after the Patriot Players production of “Shrek.” Pendleton said the set was delivered on a 53-foot freight truck, and it was so big, they were not able to use the entire set. They also hired Russell Hill, a technical director from Greensboro, N.C. and his assistant Matthew Emerson from High Point University to rig the flying apparatus.

Imagine Design and Production Services Inc. from Greensboro completed renovations on sound and lighting in Walker Theatre on May 21. Pendleton said much of the systems and fixtures were original with the building, which opened in 1990.

“It took us a year to get approved for the sound and lighting renovations,” Pendleton said, “and the theatre has never been better. We’ve tried to fix things like the dressing rooms and the orchestra pit. Our goal is to eventually put this space out for rental so we can raise money to put back into the theatre and toward new programming.”

Patriot Players will celebrate the new renovations with a ribbon cutting opening night, May 29, before the show begins. Imagine Design and Production Services Inc. will be in attendance along with PHCC President Angeline Godwin and others from the college and community.

With around 50 costumes to a 30-person cast, Pendleton said they’re under immense pressure to deliver because so many people are familiar with the story.

“Specifically, we have to pay close attention to our main cast to make sure they emulate the characters that so many people have grown to love,” Pendleton said. “It takes Shrek (Bryan Dunn) two hours to put on his prosthetics. We also have a lot of different fairy tale creatures to present, like Peter Pan and the Sugar Plum Fairy. This is a huge show.”

Patriot Players Director Jane Leizer said bringing “Shrek” to the stage has been a big undertaking.

“From costumes to sets, makeup and props, a production of this size has been a challenge but very rewarding,” she said. “It’s PHCC’s way of bringing Broadway to Martinsville. The Patriot Players are making an impact on performing arts in our area, and it’s an honor to be part of this amazing program.”

Even with all the hard work, Pendleton said directing this show has been a wonderful challenge.

“Although it’s hard, this has been a very fun and enjoying experience,” Pendleton said. “This is the largest show I’ve ever done, and it gets bigger and bigger every single day. We’re getting so much support from the college, which is something I hope will continue for years to come. But we need the community’s support to make this successful.”

On Saturday May 31, the PHCC Patriot Players will host Saturday on the Swamp with Shrek and Friends. There are only 100 tickets to this event available at the PHCC Switchboard, so purchasing tickets in advance is encouraged.

Admission is $10 and attendees get 10 percent off tickets for Saturday’s performance. This elite meet-and-great includes one 4x6 picture print, a backstage swamp tour, pre-show ogre treats, autographs from fairy tale creatures and VIP priority seating. Tickets for this event go on sale May 21.

“Shrek: The Musical” will run from May 29-31 and June 5-7 at 7 p.m. There also will be a 2 p.m. matinee on June 1 and June 8. Tickets are $15 and on sale now at the PHCC Switchboard in West Hall on campus, or at the Artisan Center in uptown Martinsville, 54 W. Church St. Call (276) 638-8777 or visit www.patrickhenry.edu/patriotplayers for additional information.