ARTSANKShrek(UHL)1: Back row from left, Riley Dillinger (Sleeping Beauty), Finn Dillinger (Big Bad Wolf) and Isabella Hartwell (Fiona). Middle row from left, Vivian Rosenbaum (Red Riding Hood), Bennet Behnke-Nead (Peter Pan) and Adrianna Fishbach (Mama Bear). Front, Audrey Thoburn (Gingy). (Photo courtesy of Anoka Children’s Theatre)

UPDATE: The Anoka Children’s Theatre’s production of “Shrek The Musical Jr.” has been canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Anoka-Hennepin Community Education has not yet determined if the performance will be rescheduled.

Beauty is in the eye of the ogre in Anoka Children’s Theatre’s production of “Shrek The Musical Jr.” March 27-29 at the Anoka Middle School for the Arts Fred Moore Campus Theater.

The musical is based on the 2001 Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation film and the 2008 Broadway musical by the same name.

Anoka Children’s Theatre previously did “Shrek the Musical Jr.” in 2015.

“We just love this show, and it’s just so much fun,” said LeAnn Snidarich, who’s directing the performance along with music director Elaine Johnson and choreography director Judy Trempe.

Once upon a time, in a faraway swamp, there lived an ogre named Shrek (Jacob Chesser). One day, Shrek finds his swamp invaded by banished fairytale misfits who have been cast off by Lord Farquaad (Tevin Nybakken), a tiny terror with big ambitions.

When Shrek sets off with a wisecracking donkey (Audrey Kahn) to confront Farquaad, he’s handed a task — if he rescues feisty Princess Fiona (Isabella Hartwell), his swamp will be righted.

Shrek tries to win Fiona’s love and vanquish Lord Farquaad, but a fairytale wouldn’t be complete without a few twists and turns along the way.

“Audiences will recognize all their favorite songs and characters from the movie, but there are some new characters that they may not recognize,” Snidarich said. “What’s different about the live production is that this is one of those shows that starts and never stops. Even when the scenes are changing they change right in front of your eyes very quickly and sometimes during a song. Audiences will also see interesting characters that may be a part of the scenery, fun dancing, audience interactions and some new additions along the way.”

“Shrek The Musical Jr.” has a cast of 41 students in grades four through eight at a variety of schools across Anoka County and the Twin Cities. Ten Anoka Children’s Theatre alumni are also involved with the musical as crew members.

The cast includes Autumn Beckel (Duloc Citizen/Woodland Tree), Bennett Behnke-Nead (Peter Pan), Connor Christianson (Guard/Knight), Ethan Christianson (Guard/Knight), Taylor Dehn (Tinkerbell/Rat), Finn Dillinger (Big Bad Wolf/Pied Piper/Puss in Boots), Riley Dillinger (Sleeping Beauty), Fallon Dillinger (Storyteller Tree), Adriana Fischbach (Mama Bear), Keira Galvin (Little Pig 3), Katie Geraghty (Goldilocks/Rooster), Finn Hanson (Guard/Knight), Tess Herman (Pinocchio), Jovie Hodges (Miss Muffet), Emma Johnson (Snow White), Aydia King (Wicked Witch), Ella Krause (Duloc Citizen/Woodland Tree), Annabelle Kuhn (Storyteller Raccoon), Peyton Lizakowski (Captain of Guards), Cayla Nybakken (Teen Fiona/Duloc Citizen/Woodland Tree/Deer), Naomi Parke (Little Pig 1), Karina Patterson (Duloc Citizen/Woodland Tree), Kaden Patterson (Baby Bear/Rat), Elise Popinga (Young Fiona/Duloc Citizen), Vivian Rosenbaum (Red Riding Hood/Deer), Jamison Snidarich (Guard/Knight), Arianna Snyder (Bo Peep), Addison Snyder-Nohre (Little Pig 2), Keara Stack (Mama Ogre/Dragon), Maeve Stack (Ugly Duckling/Rat), Jackson Staton (Little Ogre/Dwarf/Skunk/Bush), Calla Tanner (Duloc Citizen/Woodland Tree), Emelia Tanner (Storyteller Dove), Audrey Thoburn (Gingy) and Gavin Thunder (Papa Ogre/Papa Bear/Bishop).

“‘Shrek The Musical Jr.’ is special because it’s really busy so a lot of people get to do a lot of things and they get to feel more important and included than they would in another play,” said Jacob Chesser (Shrek), an eighth-grader at Coon Rapids Middle School. “For this show we’re all trying to make it be the best show we can do, and we all just want to share the enjoyment of this musical with everyone else.”

Snidarich said “Shrek The Musical Jr.” is the perfect musical for children and families to see because it provides important messages about the dangers of bullying and accepting and being kind to those who might be seen as different.

“I think the show is applicable right now because it talks about how everyone is different and yet we’re all in this together,” she said. “It also touches on how everyone has value and should be accepted. I think it brings such a strong message to kids that no matter what, we all play an important role.”

“This musical teaches kids not to follow the labels that people put on you and that being different is okay,” said Isabella Hartwell (Princess Fiona), an eighth-grader at Anoka Middle School for the Arts. “It’s good for kids to know that it’s okay to be you and not just like everyone else.”

“Shrek The Musical Jr.’s” book and lyrics is written by David Lindsay-Abaire and includes music by Jeanine Tesori. The musical features hit songs like “Story of My Life,” “What’s Up, Duloc?,” “This Is How A Dream Comes True,” “Big Bright Beautiful World” and “Freak Flag.”

“It’s so fast paced, fun and crazy,” Snidarich said. “I think everyone in the audience will enjoy it from front to back. It’s just so much fun. We have some of the most hard-working kids. ... I think they’re going to capture everyone’s hearts.”

For more information on “Shrek The Musical,” visit


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