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Dutcher students bring Shrek the Musical Jr. to stage
Shrek 4
Guards Joseph Orrick and Jonah Bertalotto confront Shrek (Eli Covarrubias) and Donkey (Lucas Olivera) during a rehearsal of Shrek The Musical Jr.

An ogre will be spotted roaming the campus of Turlock High School this month, but no need to grab a pitchfork. Given a closer look, the ogre is in fact Dutcher Middle School eighth grader Eli Covarrubias, who is busy perfecting lines and choreography with his peers for the school’s production of “Shrek the Musical Jr.” before opening night.


“People can expect to see a great production,” said Covarrubias. “My hope is to inspire other kids to do drama too.”


As Dutcher’s sixteenth production, “Shrek the Musical Jr.” is being brought to life under the direction of co-director and producer Anne Cornell, co-director and choreographer Amber Traini and music director Tom Oakley. Students auditioned for the roles in August and a week later they started rehearsals. Of the 35 students in sixth grade through eighth grade who auditioned, all 35 were selected to be part of the cast.


“Students who participate in this musical come away with so many benefits,” said Cornell. “They learn to dance, sing and act. They learn what it is to be part of a community. They learn discipline. They learn how important their part is to show even if they aren’t the stars. They gain lasting friendships. And for some, they find a place in the junior high setting.”


August through December, students met four time times a week for a hour and a half in Dutcher’s Performing Arts room to perfect the choreography, learn music and block scenes. This month, students upped their rehearsal times to five hours every day in Turlock High School’s Performing Arts Building to practice choreography and set changes into their scenes.


“People who have never seen our shows walk away surprised,” said Cornell. “They walk in expecting to see a ‘junior high’ production, and walk away feeling thoroughly entertained. We have people who come to our shows each year, and they do not even have students at our school.”


Tickets for “Shrek the Musical Jr.” are $12 and can be purchased at the Dutcher main office. Dutcher’s drama program will perform Shrek the Musical Jr. at 7 p.m. on Jan. 12, Jan. 13 and Jan. 14. There will be one matinee performance at 2 p.m. on Jan. 14. Doors will open 30 minutes prior to each performance and all shows will take place in the Turlock High School’s Performing Arts Building.