Culpeper County High School and Culpeper Middle School students live happily ever after - after school’s out at least.

The two theatre groups have combined for the summer stages production of “Shrek Jr. - The Musical,” presented Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 3 and 7 p.m. at the CCHS auditorium.

CCHS director and musical theater teacher Maxi Mitchell said it wasn’t hard to convince the students to come back to school just a week after the year wrapped up.

“I think we just have a passionate group,” Mitchell said. “They just love the arts and that’s what the program is all about, supplying them with a musical theatre summer camp - allowing them to keep doing it as much as they want. If it’s in demand, we as educators want to give them every opportunity to learn.”

Shrek gives them an opportunity to practice their comedy chops, while diving into a deeper meaning behind what it means to be an “outcast.” Rising junior Reilly Tanner plays the title role, while recent graduate Schuyler Hagen portrays Princess Fionna. Tyler Bowyer plays Donkey, Cole Edwards takes on the character of Lord Farquaad while 2019 graduate Sarah Hoy plays Pinnochio.

They perform all-original songs created specifically for the musical version.

“They aren’t necessarily familiar with the musical, but they know the movie,” Mitchell said.

Hagen, who will attend George Mason University in the fall to be part of their musical theater program, said this is a role she was excited to portray.

“I’ve seen all Shrek movies so it’s an awesome role to get to be,” Hagen said. “She’s really funny and gets to act stupid, so it wasn’t hard to have fun with her. “I noticed at the beginning tries to be all ‘princessy’ and not an ogre but it comes out slowly during it. By the time she’s an ogre she’s already gross and smelly.”

Hagen said she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else this summer - despite already walking the stage at CCHS as a graduate.

“Being a part of this theater department for four years, I had so much fun with it,” Hagen said. “Having an opportunity to do one more show with all these people that I love, it wasn't hard to be part of it.”

Tanner said the role of Shrek takes more than just filling out a fat suit.

“I feel like I have a lot to live up to,” Tanner said. “Mr. Wayne, one of the directors, played Shrek when he acted. He had a one-on-one session with me and he talked about the deeper complexities of the character. I feel like I have a legacy to live up to, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s a fun challenge.

“Everyone treats him like the calm-minded individual, but he has a heart, you have to treat him like he’s damaged because he was cast away so many times by so many different people,” Tanner said.

Tanner, too, couldn’t wait to get back into the school despite the year closing out just a week prior.

“I just have a lot of love of theater,” Tanner said. “It just started out as doing funny voices from kid cartoons. As I got into I realized there was more than just making funny voices.”

Tickets cost $8 for the show.

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