Grandview Heights High School's spring musical is a show for all ages -- on the stage, behind the scenes and in the audience.
The cast and crew of "Shrek the Musical" includes students from every Grandview school building, said director April Olt.
"It's a larger show than we usually do," she said. "There are so many parts in this musical; some students are playing multiple roles. We have an elementary student playing Young Fiona and middle school students playing Young Shrek and Baby Bear and Grumpy the Dwarf. We have younger students involved as tap dancers and as secondary characters and some who work in the backstage crew.
"It's a chance for them to get involved in a play at an earlier age and, hopefully, it's going to whet their appetite for getting involved once they're in high school," Olt said.
Getting the chance to serve as role models for younger students is rewarding, said Sarah Anne Kauffman, a senior who plays Fiona in the show.
"We're able to show them that being in high school isn't what they may think it is," she said. "We're really a huge family working together on this play."
The "Shrek" cast and crew are a close-knit company, said junior Nate Pommering, who plays Donkey.
"This is your own little community you step into when you're part of the musical," he said. "Everyone is cool with each other."
"There's no (off-stage) drama this year," said senior Luke Sterneker, who plays Shrek. "We're all there supporting each other. (Nate) and I have become close friends through this experience. I couldn't do this without him and everyone else in the show."
That family feeling is both figurative and literal, student director Kendal Ritchey said.
"My younger sister is one of the dancers, and there are a lot of siblings involved in the show," she said. "I think that helps bring us all together."
Each year's musical offers a different experience and set of challenges for students, Olt said.
This year's show gives some cast members a chance to play a variety of characters; it also features more-complex dancing than a typical Grandview production, she said.
"We have tap dancers in the show, which requires training and a whole different set of skills than the ensemble dance pieces we've featured in past productions," Olt said.
"There's a ton of dancing in the show," Ritchey said.
"Shrek the Musical" will appeal to both young and old audiences, she said.
"There's the story that kids will like, and there's one-liners and humor in the show that adults will really appreciate," Ritchey said.
"Shrek" is based on a movie and book that the high school cast grew up with, Sterneker said.
"I can remember my dad and I watching the movie over and over," he said. "We'd put it in the VCR and watch it, then press rewind and watch it again."
Now that she's older, Kauffman said, she can understand the message included in the play's story.
Without giving away too much of the plot, she said, the moral is that beauty is in the eye of the ogre, and that true character shouldn't be judged from appearances.
"It's a message that's really important in today's world," Kauffman said.
"Shrek the Musical" will be presented at 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, March 1-3, with a 2 p.m. matinee March 3. The matinee performance will be interpreted by Artistic Sign Language Services.
Tickets are $15 for center seating, $10 for side seating. They are available at ghcsd.org and at the door with cash only.
Admission to the March 1 and 3 shows is $5 with a student ID.