Shrek the Musical - Media Release
Most fairy tales feature a triumph over adversity – and almost two years after the first auditions, the Dartford Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (DAODS) will finally perform Shrek The Musical at the Orchard Theatre this week.
First scheduled to take place in April 2020, the show has been rearranged three times due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But the 50-strong cast and crew, all based in Dartford and the surrounding area, have persevered against all odds in order for the production to go ahead.
“They say the show must go on, but there were times when we wondered whether it would ever happen,” said DAODS chair Paul Farlie. “The original auditions were in November 2019, so getting back on that stage is going to feel really special.”
Numerous changes were needed to be made to the show over the past two years; some original cast members moved away from the area and others’ changing work commitments and the new dates meant they were no longer available.
The society worked closely with Dartford Council and Environmental Health to adhere to the government guidance and make its rehearsal space, Heathfields Hall, Covid-secure, and members check in to the venue using the NHS app.
“You could say that this should be the best show we’ve ever done because we’ve had two entire years to rehearse!” said Farlie. “We were only around a month from opening night when everything came to a halt.
“At first it was incredibly scary and putting on a show was the least of anyone’s concerns. But a lot of people have put in a huge amount of hard work, and we’ve overcome what seemed like endless obstacles to get in this position.”
Hours of meetings were needed with the theatre, with insurers and with the rights-holders of the show before it was confirmed it could proceed this week.
And although the welcome re-opening of the Orchard Theatre in August means the show - which costs some £60,000 to stage - can go ahead, it will be a very different experience for the cast and crew.
Before being allowed to perform, everyone involved must take a lateral flow test every day and send their negative result to be recorded by the society. When backstage, the cast and crew must wear masks, and when not on the stage the cast is restricted to their allocated dressing room.
Friends and family will still be coming to see the show, but members are only permitted to meet them outside the theatre afterwards.
Farlie added: “The restrictions are a shame, but everyone’s safety is of paramount importance.
“Show week is a hugely sociable occasion, where everyone would normally go out for meals and to the pub after performances. Unfortunately that won’t be the case this week and we’re taking every precaution to ensure there is no disruption and everyone stays safe.”
Based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation film, Shrek The Musical is a Tony Award-winning fairy tale adventure. It brings all the beloved characters from the film to life on stage - and proves there’s more to the story than meets the ears…
And the good news is that with strong ticket sales and the Saturday matinee performance already sold out, audiences seem ready to enjoy a great night out.
“It’s a brilliant show to return to, with some wonderful characters, very funny lines, great songs and amazing costumes,” said Paul, who is helping the production crew backstage during the week.
“We just can’t wait to get back doing what we love doing, and are looking forward to seeing audiences enjoying themselves again.”
*Tickets for Shrek The Musical, taking place from 20-23 October at the Orchard Theatre, are still available – see orchardtheatre.co.uk or call 0343 310 0033.
*DAODS' next show at the Orchard Theatre will be All Shook Up in April 2022. For information about auditions and joining the Society for this show please email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on this release or DAODS, email email@example.com or call 07984863642
· DAODS was formed in 1906 when three residents decided to form a local operatic society to offset ‘the perceived lack of facilities for entertainment’ in Dartford. A newspaper advert sought ‘gentlemen and young ladies with good voices and good figures’. The group’s first show, performed in Conservative Hall in Spital Street, was The Mikado in April 1907
· Comprising a large cross-section of the community from Dartford and beyond, DAODS’ members range from the youth group, which starts at nine years old, to the group’s oldest member, aged 70-plus. The society has more than 170 members.
· Former DAODS stars, including Lara Pulver and Rebecca Thornhill, have been nominated for Olivier Awards and appeared on primetime television and the West End (Pulver - Sherlock/Fleming/Gypsy; Thornhill - From Here To Eternity/Chicago/Matilda)