Originally, A Center for the Arts (AC4TA) had planned to put on “Mulan, Jr.” for their Children’s Theater production this summer but a call from their licensing agency put a sudden halt to their project last Monday. Disney has pulled the rights for “Mulan” and “Peter Pan,” halting productions of those titles in theaters across the country. Instead, AC4TA will instead be doing “Shrek the Musical, Jr.”
The reason given, although Disney doesn’t need to give a reason for pulling its licenses, was the planned production of “Mulan Live,” though it’s unclear if they mean the live-action movie that will release next year, or a production of “Mulan Live!” along the lines of “Peter Pan Live!” in 2014, “The Sound of Music Live!” in 2013 or “The Wiz Live!” in 2015. These productions are done live at a studio in New York and broadcast on NBC.
Luckily, AC4TA hadn’t held auditions yet, and while they had already designed the set, they hadn’t started building it yet. “We’ll be fine,” says Michael Burgraff, executive director of AC4TA.
Ultimately, they decided on “Shrek, Jr.” to replace the nixed “Mulan, Jr.” because it’s very recognizable and had the most speaking parts. “We were looking at a number of different scripts,” says Burgraff, “We did ‘Peter Pan’ last year and wanted to do something not from that time period, something more modern.”
AC4TA will have three productions of “Shrek, Jr.” with three different directors and three different casts. That way, all children who audition will have roles. The directors will be Aimee Nordland, Kaele Peterson and Burgraff. Despite having the same scripts, sets and music, having different directors will give each show a unique feel making each production different.
“Shrek, Jr.” follows the general plot of the original “Shrek” movie, though some of the songs are different and it’s an abridged version. It still includes everyone’s favorite characters, like Donkey, Dragon, Pinocchio and the Gingerbread Man (Gingy).
Auditions for “Shrek, Jr.” are this Saturday, May 18 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is open to children aged 6-17. Go online at fergusarts.org to register for an audition time.