Stepping Out

PYT brings 'Shrek' musical back to Mtn. View stage

Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Shrek the Musical” is scheduled to run Saturday through March 17 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St.

With inspiration from DreamWorks’ Oscar-winning animated film and the Tony Award-winning Broadway show, the musical about a misfit ogre and his companions is told through the lens of creative director Loryn Hatten. She served as production manager when PYT last performed “Shrek” in 2014.

Hatten appreciates the positive messages of self-acceptance and unconditional love in “Shrek.”

“It just has so much heart,” she said of the show.

Five years later, Hatten wanted to show the ogre’s other layers.

“We wanted to try and do something new with it,” she said. “What I latched onto is the fact that before ‘Shrek’ was a DreamWorks animated feature, it was a book by William Stieg. And it is hysterical.”

Inspired by Stieg, Hatten created an innovative scenic design centered on books. Instead of using literal representations, oversized books are used as stage props, scene setters and even to replace the stage curtain.

The 84 actors are split into two casts – dubbed Fairytale and Storybook. Playing parts that include ogres, little pigs and fairies, they sing their roles under the vocal direction of Holly Smolik and dance to choreography by Meg Fischer Venuti.

Los Altos resident Megan Branstad stars as Donkey, Shrek’s amusing and clever friend. The 13-year-old, who attends The Nueva School in Hillsborough, started acting at 10.

She’s taken her time to develop Donkey, noting that her best character ideas have come when she's at school doing writing exercises or mid-sleep.

“The show has a lot of energy,” Branstad said. “It’s going to be very fun and very colorful.”

Shows are scheduled 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and March 16, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, 9:30 a.m. March 14, 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. March 15 and 6:30 p.m. March 17.

Tickets are $18-$24.

For tickets and more information, call 903-6000 or visit pytnet.org.

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