WILMINGTON — The opportunity for Dan Hunt to direct the College-Community Summer Theatre’s production of Shrek, the Musical provides a homecoming for the Wilmington High School and Wilmington College graduate.
“It’s coming home. I’m a Hurricane and a (Fightin’) Quaker,” Hunt said, adding that he was an active Summer Theatre participant during the 1980s. “I spent my formative years in this theatre.”
Shrek, the Musical runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday (July 16, 17 and 18), at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday (July 19), at 2:30 p.m., in Hugh G. Heiland Theatre. Tickets, which are $12 and $8 for children 12 and under, are selling quickly and reservations can be made by calling the Theatre Box Office weekdays, from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m., at (937) 481-2267.
Hunt, a 1987 WC graduate, is a faculty member at Clark State Community College in Springfield and is the long-time technical director for the Clark State Performing Arts Center.
He spoke a week before opening night about directing the show and the great tradition of Summer Theatre in Wilmington. Hunt describes Shrek as “non-stop, silly fun and excitement” — but it’s a musical comedy ”with a timely message.”
“I’m laughing every night at rehearsal and I think the cast is too,” he said. “People have seen the Shrek films. I think they’re wondering how we’re going to put that on stage. We’ve had 29 really hard-working people on stage and others backstage putting their hearts and souls into this show.”
Hunt holds a special appreciation for the numerous summer theatre stalwarts in the cast, as they are serving as role models for the younger actors in showing them “they’ve got to raise to their level.”
“It’s great the veterans keep the bar so high,” he said. “I’ve been gone 20-some years and the bar is set as high or higher than it was when I was here.”
After six weeks of rehearsals, time has only reinforced Hunt’s decision to cast Bryan Wallingford in the title role.
“He gets on stage and he is Shrek. It’s fun to watch and be part of,” he said. “Bryan is extremely talented and he’s the kind of actor every director dreams of: he’s creative, he tries new things and he takes my suggestions and runs with it.”
Hunt got his start in theatre at WHS under the tutelage of Steven Haines, who through 2012 directed summer theatre for 40 years. He is honored to follow in the Summer Theatre footsteps of one that he calls his “most influential” musical theatre mentor.
“For the past six weeks, when I’ve stepped into this building, I’ve asked myself, ‘How did this happen, directing Summer Theatre in Wilmington?’ I’m so fortunate,” he added. “It’s been a great summer for me. The camaraderie and friendships — and this hysterical, wonderful show!”