Guys, dolls and ogres: Garden School, Basalt High School musicals open soon |

Guys, dolls and ogres: Garden School, Basalt High School musicals open soon

Donkey (Hayden Talbott) and Shrek (Riley Morley) gather near a campfire in "Shrek the Musical
Jessica Cabe / Post Independent |

If You Go...

Who: The Garden School

What: “Shrek the Musical”

When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Jeannie Miller Auditorium, Glenwood Springs High School

How Much: $12 for adults, $10 for children 12 and younger, seniors and military

Who: Basalt High School

What: “Guys and Dolls”

When: 7:30 p.m. April 2-4

Where: Basalt Middle School auditorium

How Much: $12 for adults, $8 for students

Within the next week, you’ll have the opportunity to see the spring musical from two area high schools.

First, opening today, is the Garden School’s production of “Shrek the Musical.” Next weekend, Basalt High School will stage “Guys and Dolls.”

The Garden School is a Classical, Christian and University Model school which emphasizes independent and deep, experiential learning. Principal Renee Miller, who is playing piano for “Shrek the Musical,” said the annual school musical is an opportunity for her students to learn. That’s why all of them participate.

“It’s a fun way to give the kids confidence,” she said. “We want to raise kids who are leaders. It’s a really fun way to give them a chance to stand in front of people, to be in front of a crowd, to speak. I’ve just seen the benefit of it over the years. It gives them all a chance to work together to produce something of quality to share with the community.”

Miller said the musical will usually coincide with the time period the students are studying. Right now, they’re learning about the Middle Ages, which she admits is a stretch for “Shrek the Musical,” but the choice meets all the other criteria.

“We have to have a play that’s family-friendly, that we can use kindergarten through 12th grade, that we have the students who can pull it off,” she said. “But it also has to be something really fun that we love the music from and that people will want to see.”

“Shrek the Musical” is certainly not short on fun. Based on the 2001 animated movie, “Shrek,” it tells the story of an ogre who falls in love with a princess and befriends a sassy donkey.

Senior Hayden Talbott is playing Donkey, and he said he was drawn to his character’s funny and spastic personality.

“I just like that he’s the comedic relief,” Talbott said. “I always just love characters that are the comedic relief because they’re what make everybody happy. And that’s one of my favorite things to do, is to make people happy.”

Talbott said although his role can be a challenge because of the need for constant energy and his very warm, furry costume, he’s excited to make people laugh.

“It’s definitely a funny show,” he said. “It’s hilarious. The music is great, too.”

Miller said “Shrek the Musical” has all the elements that make an entertaining evening for an audience.

“It’s just fun — great costumes, great sets, kids having a really good time,” she said. “I mean, ultimately, that’s what it’s about. If the kids on the stage are enjoying it, the audience enjoys it.”

Basalt High School, performing the old favorite “Guys and Dolls,” also plans on providing an entertaining evening for audiences.

“Every song is going to be a hit,” said director Erin Beaudette. “The cast is so much fun. They’re such talented young adults and hard workers. It’s hard not to enjoy when you have a good cast who are eager and willing.”

In addition to a classic, recognizable musical and a strong cast, Basalt High School has a not-so-secret weapon in producer Jonathan Gorst, who is also the school’s choir and drama director as of September. Gorst, also the musical director at the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue, has 17 years under his belt as a touring musician with Broadway. He and his wife moved to the valley in July, and this is his first time working on a Basalt High School musical.

“He knows what he’s talking about, and he’s good at getting that across to you,” said sophomore Cade Erickson, who plays Sky Masterson. “It’s a lot of fun working with him.”

Gorst shares similar praise for his cast.

“The students really put their all into it,” he said. “It’s great to see them come along and really apply themselves to the experience.”

Junior Courtney Aitken, who is playing Adelaide, said she’s had to work a little harder as a lead this year because there is less chorus work in “Guys and Dolls” than previous shows she’s performed in. But she said the cast has it down, and audiences will love the humor.

“It’s very funny,” she said. “There are a lot of hidden innuendos in the humor that I think people will really enjoy.”

Senior Rebecca Maniscalchi, who plays Sarah Brown, said despite the fact that there has been less rehearsal time than in years past, this has been one of the smoothest shows she’s ever worked on.

“This is the first year I’ve really been like, ‘We can put this show on,’ and I’m not running around like a chicken with my head cut off,” she said.

Between an experienced director and producer, a talented cast and the show’s name recognition, “Guys and Dolls” is panning out to be a real crowd-pleaser.

“It’s definitely a favorite from a long time ago,” Gorst said. “Everyone will recognize at least some of the tunes.”

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