Aug. 4—VALDOSTA — A dragon lurks back stage of The Dosta Playhouse.
More than two dozen feet long, scaled, with movable wings and mouth, the dragon requires four people to operate, said Dana Welch who built the giant puppet.
And not only that Welch's dragon looks like the one in the movie "Shrek" and now in "Shrek: The Musical," which opens the 2022-23 Theatre Guild Valdosta season this weekend.
On stage, veteran Guild member David Bass wears the green skin and trumpet ears of the title ogre. He is joined by Kamron Whooten playing the talkative Donkey and Whitney Singletary as the princess Fiona. They perform in character for a photo shoot.
Local folks dressed as fairy tale characters wander on the periphery of the stage, some juggling multiple roles as well as helping Patti Cook Robertson, assistant director/stage manager, keep everything running backstage.
Brock Gilliard stands in the front row, directing the photo shoot, answering questions about costumes, characters and addressing other needs of cast and crew as he prepares to bring the world of Shrek to life.
"Shrek" is the third Theatre Guild show he's directed in the past year. He directed "Murder on the Orient Express" in the spring and "Clue: On Stage" last September. He directs "The Christmas Carol" later this year.
He said the 33-member cast began rehearsing in late May and has continued throughout the summer. As the curtain prepares to rise on the 34th season of Theatre Guild Valdosta, the cast is ready for a very Shrek once upon a time.
Audiences are apparently ready, too. Ticket sales are brisk, according to the Theatre Guild. Some performance dates were already selling out as of earlier this week.
THE CAST: David Bass, Whitney Singletary, Kamron Whooten, Brawdy Gupton, Sunny Lee, Dalton Bell, Julianna Watson, Isaac Darflinger, Alijah Patterson, Taylor Sharfner, Ben Hawley, Rhyonna Dewey, Sophie O'Kane, Sophie Buehrer, Kassandra Morris, Lucas Keasby, Katrina Latham, Lane Smith, Calleigh Crews, Laurana Layton, Frances Ann Layton, Emily Brooks, Kylah Wilson, Olivia Buehler, Caleb Chaney, Caleb Andrus, Luke Hiers, Kamari Samuels, Harmony Cantu, Sommers Coleman, Lauren Greer, Amanda Sanderson, Julianna Watson, Lane Smith.
DIRECTION, PRODUCTION: Brock Gilliard, director; Betsy Dalton Kingsbury, musical director; Patti Cook Robertson, assistant director/stage manager; Jeannie Gupton, producer; Kelly Barbour, Brock Gilliard, Kamari Samuels, choreographers; Liam Sanderson, lights; Andrea Petty, sound; Pauline Player, Mary Ann Green, Dana Welch, Pam Barton, Linda Stikkel, Broadway, Inc., costumes; Harley Stone, Brawdy Gupton, Whitney Singletary, June Bell, Jeannie Gupton, Kassandra Morris, props; Kassandra Morris, Jaclyn Taylor, spotlight; Dana Welch, dragon.
Theatre Guild Valdosta's "Shrek: The Musical" plays 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 4-6; 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7; 7:30 p.m., Aug. 11-13, The Dosta Playhouse, 122 N. Ashley St. More information: Visit theatreguildvaldosta.com or call (229) 247-8243.