The Cast of “Shrek, the Musical” Let Their Freak Flags Fly in This Year’s Ambitious Production

Davyn Gottfried ’25 singing her solo as Fiona in “Shrek, the Musical”

Rainbow banners hung from floor to ceiling as the voices of Micheal Kawooya ’26, Amina Gorman ’26, Davyn Gottfried ’25, and April Arabian ’24, in their respective roles of Shrek, Donkey, Fiona, and Dragon, sang “I’m a Believer” by Smash Mouth. Beside them, the rest of the cast stood along the front of the stage, singing and dancing along, with wide smiles stretched across their faces.

This past weekend, The Phillips Academy Theater & Dance Department presented “Shrek, the Musical” in Tang Theater. Over the course of the two-hour show, the packed auditorium was filled with eclectic costumes, fantastic singing, upbeat dancing, and sets that transported the audience into Shrek’s swamp and the Kingdom of Duloc. Audience member Agnes Agosto ’24 applauded the impressive performance.

“It was really bright and fun and also kind of clever. There were a lot of hidden jokes. I thought they did Duloc very well: it was very culty… The thing that was different from this musical with respect to the other musicals was that it felt like a bigger production. The cast was bigger; the set was bigger; it overall just kind of felt more ambitious, but they pulled it off,” said Agosto.

The execution of the musical was the result of an extensive rehearsal process starting months ago, at the beginning of the Winter Term. Donkey donned a furry gray bodysuit that was brought to life by Gorman’s effortless strut across the stage, sarcastic delivery of hilarious lines, and the judging looks she flashed in Shrek’s direction. Gorman commented on the rehearsal process, as well as the challenges of singing with a live orchestra.

“In the beginning, we were all together, and then we split off into separate scenes and things like that. I think my favorite part was when we finally got our costumes because we got to really see the costumes, the set, all that stuff come together. Something that was really challenging was the first time we did sing with the band [and] balancing out the loudness,” said Gorman.

The costumes and props were an integral piece in bringing the show to life. Arabian wore a purple and black dress with a dragon headpiece and red wings that splayed out from her back. She remarked on the connection between her character and her costume, specifically noting the audience’s reaction to the surprise element of the wings.

“My favorite part of my own song is when I floof my wings and pop them out because that was a big part of the costume and actually getting to see people go, ‘oh my gosh’ when it happens, because I can see the crowd a little bit, that’s actually my favorite part of the show, seeing people respond to us,” said Arabian.

Behind the scenes, a strong theater community was formed amongst the cast members. Rika Siegfried ’26, who played numerous roles including Teen Fiona, Tappy Rat, and Dragonette, shared how other cast members were central to her experience.

“One of my favorite parts was getting close to the cast. At the beginning of the term we didn’t know each other super well but over the course of the term and getting to perform together it just really solidified our relationships, and that was something I really enjoyed,” said Siegfried.

The idea of community was a powerful and central message of the show as well. In her role as Dragon, Arabian transformed from a character who was feared and isolated, into one that was accepted and loved by the characters around her.

“The message is [that] all of us come from very different parts of this campus, but all of us came together and really went all in on this [show], and you can see that in all of our faces. You can see it in Duloc, you can see it with the fairytale creatures, I think that’s the idea: we are all from very different places on this campus, but we can all come together and make a show work,” said Arabian.

Similarly, Siegfried points to the song “Freak Flag” as representative of the message of “Shrek, the Musical.” This number featured the fairytale creatures celebrating each other as they let go of the judgments and expectations placed on them, allowing themselves to be their unfiltered selves. 

“Obviously the message of [Freak Flag] was a big one, but also that this is our story and we are so excited to share the musical with the audience and just be able to convey joy and happiness. Hopefully, everyone walked away with a little kick in their step,” said Siegfried.