Meet the Kids of ‘Shrek The Musical’ at Reston Community Players: Allie Lytle, Ella Schnoor, Erik Peyton, Mhairi Cameron, and Brayden DiBacco

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In Part 5 of our series of interviews with the cast of Shrek The Musical at Reston Community Players, we meet the girls of RCP’s Shrek: Allie Lytle, Ella Schnoor, Erik Peyton, Mhairi Cameron, and Brayden DiBacco.

Please introduce yourself to our audience.

Allie Lytle as Elf.
Allie Lytle (Elf). Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.

Allie: Hello I am Allie Lytle, I am fifteen, and I am a sophomore at Herndon High School. I have recently portrayed the role of Bonnie in Herndon High’s production of Anything Goes.  I will be playing Maysie in NextStop’s production of Seussical in December. I also was a part of the 2015 National Honor choir in Salt Lake City last year.

Ella Schnoor (Tinkerbell) with Chuck Dluhy (Farquaad).
Ella Schnoor (Tinkerbell) with Chuck Dluhy (Farquaad). Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.

Ella: I’m Ella Schnoor, I’m 13 years old, and I am in eighth grade. I go to Frederick County Middle School in Winchester, VA. I have been fortunate enough to be cast in some wonderful shows recently, including The Music Man (Amaryllis) at Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre, A Christmas Carol (Fan) at Ford’s Theatre, Mary Poppins (Jane Banks) at SSMT, and Les Miserablés (Little Cosette) at Reston Playhouse. I also play the trumpet and was first chair in All Districts last year.

Erik Peyton (Little Shrek).
Erik Peyton (Little Shrek). Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.

Erik: My name is Erik Peyton; and I am a sixth grader at Metropolitan School of the Arts in Lorton, VA. Last December, I was in A Charlie Brown Christmas at NextStop, and I played Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka at Vienna Community Center. I was recently cast as Jojo in the upcoming production of Seussical at NextStop, which opens in December.

Mhairi Cameron as Baby Bear.
Mhairi Cameron (Baby Bear). Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.

Mhairi: Hi I’m Mhairi Cameron and I’m a junior at Herndon High School. Last year I was fortunate to be a part of an original production with the Royal Conservetoire of Scotland. I also was able to learn to fly in Peter Pan with my school.

Brayden DiBacco (Grumpy).
Brayden DiBacco (Grumpy). Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.

Brayden: Hi, I’m Brayden DiBacco. I’m an eighth grader at Langston Hughes Middle School in Reston.

Who do you play in Shrek? What’s one way you really connect with your character?

Allie: In Shrek I play the roles of the elf and teen Fiona. I feel the elf and I both try to find the best in people, and teen Fiona and I are both very stubborn and impatient but always keep an optimistic outlook on the situation at hand.

Ella: I’m thrilled to be playing Little Fiona, because in many ways I am just like her. I love to read books, and use my imaginations. We both are our own unique selves, so we have “special” traits that can make us challenging sometimes. Also, one of my many favorite stories is Rapunzel, so I can connect with Fiona in that way. Finally, no one’s life is perfect, and even though I don’t live in a dragon guarded tower, I know that there are ups and downs in life that everyone goes through. I also get to play a very sassy Tinkerbell, which is a lot of fun. Who knew I could be a blonde?

Erik: I play little Shrek in this play, and I know I would feel sad if I had been sent away by my parents when I was seven. The most challenging thing is that I’m naturally a very happy person, so it’s challenging for me to play someone who’s supposed to be sad.

Mhairi: I’m part of a very, very busy ensemble (aka a happy ensemble), but I mainly play Baby Bear. She’s really quite determined, a little bit funny, and overall a really happy person, I like to think I’m like that. Being part of her learning to stand up for herself in a really big way is kind of cathartic. There’s so many big numbers in the song that I can just lose myself in the character and what it means to be happy and confident and proud of who I am. When I was two, my first theatre role ever was actually a bear! Thirteen years later and I’m doing it again.

Brayden: I play Grumpy The Dwarf. He connects with me because I have to wake up at 5:45 for school and sometimes I get kinda grumpy.

What makes Shrek special or unique?

Allie Lytle (Teen Fiona).
Allie Lytle (Teen Fiona). Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.

Allie: Shrek is an amazing show because it combines all aspects of theater, music, and dance. You’ll experience romance that warms your heart and comedy that never stops. There are big group production numbers including both up beat steps and fast paced tap.  And the music is entertaining, beautiful, and familiar to the point where you’ll be singing along with us.

Ella: I think that Shrek is so unique because its story really pushes the message that you should be yourself and not allow anyone to tell you that you aren’t good enough. We all need to hear that, especially kids. In our show, we portray this with very talented actors/actresses and wonderful sets, costumes, and choreography.

Erik: The thing that makes Shrek special is that I’ve been cast with a lot of very talented people and overall it’s a very fun show. I have been absolutely amazed at the professionalism and friendliness of the cast.

Mhairi: Shrek might possibly be the most unique show around. Everywhere you look there’s a new fairytale piece. I think that’s what makes it such an interesting show; it’s unfalteringly funny and there are so many twists and pieces to figure out.

Brayden: Shrek The Musical is unique because it has a variety of fairytale characters coming together and, in the end, becoming a family of sorts. They have each other’s backs.

What is your favorite number or scene in Shrek  — and why?

Allie: My favorite number in Shrek is “I’m A Believer,” which is held at the very end of the production. It’s energetic and a perfect way to say goodbye to another show.

All Three Fionas Allie Lytle, Jolene Vettese, and Ella Schnoor.
All Three Fionas Allie Lytle, Jolene Vettese, and Ella Schnoor. Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.

Ella: My favorite number in Shrek is probably “Freak Flag” because it tells you to be unique, and don’t let anyone think of you as “different.” It also has a very catchy tune and some awesome choreography you won’t forget. Plus, there’s a really cool nod to Les Miserablés in the number.

Erik: My favorite song is “I’m a Believer” because it’s so upbeat and positive, which describes my personality.

Mhairi: My favorite number is the finale, where we stand in these lines together and sing our (sometimes wooden) hearts out. There’s such a high energy in the finale and it’s a really amazing thing to be a part of.

Brayden: My favorite scene is when Lord Farquaad is interrogating Gingy. The scene makes me laugh every time.

Is there a number you WISH you were singing in Shrek? What is it and why?

Allie: If I could be in any number, I’d love to participate in “Travel Song.”  It’s a wonderful and hilarious duet between Donkey and Shrek that ends up combining other classic shows. It also happens to be my favorite song in the show.

Ella: Like Allie, I would love to be in “Travel Song” because it has very tight harmonies and is so funny. In the song, Donkey had some very funny lines that I wish I could say in the show. Plus Paul Tonden and Josh Redford are just hysterical together as Shrek and Donkey.

Erik: I wish had the privilege to sing “Don’t Let Me Go” because it is hysterical.

Mhairi: I love “Who I’d Be,” when Shrek, Donkey, and Fiona have separate songs that magically converge. Besides, it’s just harmonically really beautiful.

Brayden: Yes, I wish I could be in “Freak Flag” because it is my most favorite song in the play. I think it is the most upbeat song, and it says that it doesn’t matter how you look or act, just be you.

What do you hope audiences take away from this production?

Allie: I hope you’ll be able to see after this show how it’s so much more than a classic story.Shrek is able to prove the importance of appreciation in yourself and others. It also gives an updated and accurate perspective on love, no matter how green it can be.

Ella: I hope the audience loves Shrek as much as I do. I hope that once people see the show, they will want to come back for more. I would love audience members to leave the show thinking “I don’t need to be perfect, I just need to be my unique self.” I think this show can help kids in particular understand themselves just a little bit more.

Erik: I want the audience to leave knowing that if you think positive good things will happen.

Mhairi Cameron (Duloc Dancer).
Mhairi Cameron (Duloc Dancer). Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.

Mhairi: I really hope audiences get a good laugh out of us and leave the theatre humming and feeling really positive. That’s why we do theatre. We want to share a piece of ourselves that we’re proud of to make people happy.

Brayden: I hope the audience goes home and tells everybody they know how awesome the show is. I also hope they learn that they can show who they actually are and don’t pretend to be someone else. 

What are some of the magical surprises that RCP’s production of Shrek has in store for audiences? 

Allie: Surprises will occur around every song and line, but especially look out for that majestic dragon! She was a real beast to make and she looks and moves magnificently. Also, the majority of this production is built from scratch. The costumes, scenery, props, dances, songs, and scenes were mostly merely ideas before the show began to run. I have had the enormous pleasure of working with so many talented individuals, both onstage and off, who make the magic happen at every performance.

Ella Schnoor (Little Fiona).
Ella Schnoor (Little Fiona). Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.

Ella: Some of the many magical things audiences will see are the costumes, the very detailed sets, and the way every cast member adds a special element to the show based on their character. The story sucks you in, but I’m not allowed to tell all of the magic surprises.

Erik: I think that the dragon is a magical surprise because it’s so big and beautiful.

Mhairi: Well I won’t spoil anything, but we do have a couple of pretty awesome puppets and some really clumsy guards.

Brayden: Well if you look close enough at Lord Farquaad’s face, you see that the mole he has on his face is in a different spot then before.

Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.

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Shrek plays through November 7, 2015 at The Reston Community Center – 2310 Colts Neck Road, in Reston, VA. Remaining performances are October 23rd, 24th, and 30th and November 6th and 7th at 8:00 pm, with 2:00 pm matinees on October 31st and November 1st and 7th. A special Halloween costume contest is planned for the October 31st matinee. Cast members meet and greets will be held after the matinee on October 31st, November 1st, and November 7th. For tickets call the box office at (703) 476-4500 x3, or purchase them online.

All Reston Players mainstage productions are performed at CenterStage at the Reston Community Center, 2310 Colts Neck Road, Reston, Va. CenterStage is handicap accessible and offers listening devices for the hearing impaired.

LINKS:
Meet The Cast of Reston Community Players’ ‘Shrek The Musical’: Part 1: Paul Tonden and Jolene Vettese.

Meet The Creative Team Behind Reston Community Players’ ‘Shrek The Musical’: Part 2: Director Sue Pinkman and Music Director Elisa Rosman.

Meet The Cast of Reston Community Players’ ‘Shrek The Musical’: Part 3: Jennifer Lambert, Patrick Graham, and Evie Korovesis.

Meet Reston Community Players’ Farquaad and Donkey in ‘Shrek The Musical’: Part 4: Chuck Dluhy and Joshua Redford.

Meet the Kids of ‘Shrek The Musical’ at Reston Community Players: Part 5: Allie Lytle, Ella Schnoor, Erik Peyton, Mhairi Cameron, and Brayden DiBacco.

Caroline Simpson reviews ‘Shrek the Musical’ on DCMetroTheaterArts.