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First City Players present 'Shrek the Musical Jr.': Youth production for ArtsCool

Daily News Staff Writer

A cast of nearly 60 Ketchikan youth will take to the stage next weekend after a robust month's worth of theater practicum and rehearsals for First City Players' upcoming production of “Shrek the Musical Jr.”

The culmination of ArtsCool 2017, the nonprofit will present the musical at 7:30 p.m. Friday, with a second performance at 2:30 p.m. Aug. 12, each at the Ketchikan High School auditorium.

“We in essence put a shortened musical together in three weeks, which is total insanity,” FCP Executive Artistic Director Elizabeth Nelson said this past week.

The four-day-a-week ArtsCool in Ketchikan lasts from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week, with a 50-minute break for lunch.

 With one week set aside for auditions, the students spend their mornings studying anything from music and stage production to makeup and photography — this year making a rap video — before rehearsals start for the musical in the afternoons.

“We expect a lot out of these kids, and they really do come through,” Nelson said.

“One of the things that is always exciting about the ArtsCool shows to me is that there's always a surprise in a kid,” she said. “I think we often forget how talented kids can be, and this is worldwide, but there's always somebody who comes in (each) summer who I haven't met before and just wows me.”

With seven years of ArtsCool under his belt, the 17-year-old Emilio Torres, who now lives inSeattle, but grew up in Ketchikan, will be playing the main role of “Shrek.”

He's also a camp intern, teaching the photography class to ArtsCool students. Now a high school senior, his several years with the program and past involvement with FCP productions have helped push him to pursue a film degree.

“Shrek the Musical Jr.” will make the 26th show in which he has performed on stage. That all comes in large part with the training he has gained at ArtsCool, he said.

“I think ArtsCool is the most amazing thing for kids in town,” Torres said. “It's not only a thing for them to do, but it really does help them, a lot, if they want to get better at acting.”

He later said: “I know I like to direct; I like to do what Elizabeth (Nelson) does, but specifically, I would like to make movies more so than theater.”

Among the many roles of the two-show production at Kayhi next weekend, Elaina Etten will perform as “Young Fiona,” with Paige Avila playing “Teen Fiona” and Miranda Jorgens cast as “Princess Fiona.”

The story's “Donkey” will be performed by Nyah Edenshaw, and “Puss in Boots” will be performed by Mya Milner. Cameron Klein has been cast as “Lord Farquaad,” with Joleyn Cobbs as the “Dragon.”

Tickets are available at the FCP's 335 Main St. office, or online at firstcityplayers.org. Contact the nonprofit for more information.