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Family-Friendly 'Shrek Jr.' Takes Stage in Elizabeth

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams
The Tube City Almanac
March 21, 2019
Posted in: Entertainment

Dylan Stramaski as Shrek and Lexie Dubos as Fiona are featured in Mon River Arts' production of "Shrek the Musical Jr." at the Grand Theatre in Elizabeth. (Submitted photos courtesy Alexis Hawk)


If you go...

"Shrek the Musical Jr." (based on the DreamWorks movie)
Directed by Kathy Hawk
March 21-24
7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 and 6 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

The Grand Theatre, 206 Plum St., Elizabeth
Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. Reserved seating.

More information: or 412-405-8425

The family-friendly story of a guy just trying to find a little peace and quiet and protect his home – or rather swamp – complete with a cast of storybook characters comes to the Grand Theatre stage in Elizabeth through “Shrek the Musical Jr.”

Familiar to audiences of all ages through the animated DreamWorks film and Broadway musical, the story of an ogre named Shrek and the princess Fiona blossoms under the guidance of Kathy Hawk as director of the Mon River Arts youth theater production, which opens tonight and continues through Sunday (March 24).

Hawk, a music teacher in Baldwin-Whitehall School District, is a veteran director, musical director, and performer in various community theater ventures.

“There are lots and lots of characters and many opportunities for young performers in this show,” she said.

Leads Dylan Stramaski as Shrek and Lexie Dubos as Fiona said they auditioned for the show with no special roles in mind.

“I was thinking maybe I’d like to be Lord Farquaad,” said Dylan, who heard about the show from some of his friends at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School.

Instead he landed the role of the misunderstood green ogre on a quest to rescue a princess and save his land in his first performance at the Grand Theatre.

“It’s very organized and people are so much fun and friendly,” Dylan said of the cast and crew.

A versatile cast is ready for opening night. (Submitted photo courtesy Alexis Hawk)

Lexie, an Elizabeth Forward Middle School student, said she has been in shows with Mon River Arts since 2015, and “Shrek” is one of her favorite musicals.

“I honestly put down that I would do anything,” she said. “I just wanted to be part of the show.”

Lexie said she really likes to sing, and her favorite part of the musical is a duet with Shrek when she and he lament about the past. “I was sent away on Christmas Eve,” Fiona says.

“It was my birthday,” Shrek replies in “I Think I Got You Beat.”

Dylan said his favorite part is the chase scene with Donkey and Dragon while Fiona sings.

“It’s a high-energy show,” Hawk said, “and the vocals are wonderful. As a music teacher, I love the sound and harmony coming out of the whole cast. They are a great group of kids and great to work with.”

Favorite characters such as Pinocchio, Peter Pan, the Wicked Witch, the Three Pigs and others interweave their stories with Shrek and Fiona's quest. (Submitted photo courtesy Alexis Hawk)

Characters such as Pinocchio, the Three Pigs and even Peter Pan become part of the story that is part romantic yet definitely a twisted fairytale.

The director said her favorite part is when the whole cast sings and dances to “I’m a Believer.”

“It’s just so much fun and you can see it on the kids’ faces how much they enjoy that song,” Hawk said.

Cast and crew:

Dylan Stramaski as Shrek, Lexie Dubos as Fiona, Kayleigh Johnson as Teen Fiona, Avery Laughlin as Young Fiona, Dominic Celaschi as Lord Farquaad, Alayna Lacko as Donkey, Morgan Johnston as Dragon, Autumn Kelly as Mama Ogre, Emma Damiani as Papa Ogre and Gavin Barrett as Little Ogre.

Also Sofia Glover as Pinocchio; Zoe Ulmer, Colleen Boatright, and Abby Gindlesperger as the Three Pigs; Katie Kunkel as Ugly Duckling; Rachel Dunlap as Mama Bear; Lauren Maneer as Papa Bear; Liam Miller as Baby Bear; Olivia Garofalo as Wicked Witch; Emma Damiani as Big Bad Wolf and Hannah Damiani as Gingy.

Autumn Tavaglione is Peter Pan, with Zach Gapsky as Captain of the Guards, Alessa Cavalancia as Pied Piper and Allison Mough as Grumpy. The three storytellers are Colleen Boatright, Madeline Mough and Caitlyn Kelley. Marissa Klose is the Bishop, with Gavin Barrett and  Kambria Mossburg as Guards and Campbell Knox as Rooster.

Rounding out the cast are Kayleigh Johnson, Katie Kunkel, Autumn Kelly and Caitlyn Kelley as Knights. Members of the ensemble are Campbell Knox, Emma Holderbaum, Kambria Mossburg, Lilah Mae Hall, Macey Pendleton, Marissa Klose and Scarlett Maola.

The production is directed by Kathy Hawk, with vocals by Marissa Virgin, Samantha Parks as choreographer, Alexis Hawk as stage manager, Clarence Hawk in charge of sets, costumes and props by Nathan Woodring, scenic paint by Katelynn Reist, sound by Sean Haney and lighting by Michael Nath.

Bonnijean Cooney Adams is a former McKeesport Daily News editor. She can be reached at

Originally published March 21, 2019.

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