COAL CITY – A 30-foot dragon and lifelike facial prosthetics designed by Matt Singer, a consulting producer in the SyFi channel series “Face Off,” are not the props featured in typical high school musicals.
But when Music Theatre International, the agency that licensed “Shrek the Musical” recently released its rights, Jack Micetich, a Coal City Middle School math teacher, not only claimed it for Coal City High School’s spring musical, which Micetich directs, he immediately searched online for ways to recreate the magic of a professional production.
“Shrek is a well-known character in many homes,” Micetich said, “and I didn’t want to compromise his look as we translated it to the stage.”
The three-week charge for dragon rental is $1,500, Micetich said, with prosthetics (and Skype sessions with Singer for correct application) and makeup costing another $1,200. Last fall, the students hosted a fundraised to pay for the dragon by performing an hour-long show of various Broadway songs.
Small Town Theatrics, the community theater group Micetich founded in 2010, paid for the prosthetics and makeup. This theater group will sell concessions and Shrek headbands – complete with ears – at intermission during this weekend’s shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday to help recoup that money, Micetich said, which the group did not mind spending.
“That’s the reason we started community theater: to give something most people don’t have in rural communities,” Micetich said. “The opportunity to work with a professional makeup designer is not in the school budget.”
Micetich had read a newspaper story of how students at University High School in Spokane, Wash., persuaded a local dentist to sponsor the cost of a dragon for its “Shrek the Musical” production in December, Micetich said.
In January and February of 2014, the students repaired the dragon so other high schools could rent it, Micetich said, with Coal City High School being the first. The dragon arrived three weeks ago and its effects are “positively creepy.”
“It’s eyes light up and blink; its head and legs move; and it talks,” Micetich said. “It takes six people to move it around the stage.”
Those students operate the dragon with poles that fit into snare drum harnesses, which the students wear. A pulley system allows the wings to “fly out.” The dragon’s eyes, depending on its “mood” can change from red to yellow to green, Micetich said.
“[University High School students] won’t have it back for seven months, because it will be traveling from production to production,” Micetich said.
Through Singer, Micetich ordered four Shrek prosthetics – one for each of the three performances and one for dress rehearsal – as they are not reusable because they glue onto the bald cap “Shrek” wears, giving the illusion of one continuous piece.
Micetich also ordered several Shrek noses for “quick changes” during show time when the 2 ½-hour assembly process is impossible. The prosthetic for “Little Shrek” is one piece and is, therefore, reusable, Micetich said.
For several months, Micetich had searched for just the right prosthetic company. He found it with Mid-South Effects, the company Singer founded after he created the prosthetics – at cost – for the New Day Children’s Theatre production in Memphis, Tenn., where Singer’s 10-year-old son played several small roles, Singer said.
Interns, many of them recent graduates from the Memphis College of Art, assisted Singer in the process, he said. Singer’s prosthetics received such terrific reviews, Singer said, that after those 22 shows ended, he began receiving phone calls from other venues asking if he could make prosthetics for their performances, too.
So, Singer began offering the prosthetics to schools and private theater companies across the country as it seemed like a “shame to say ‘good-bye’ to the interns.” The Skype sessions, Singer said, are essential to ensure a quality fit.
“It’s silly to sell a Porsche when people don’t know how to drive a stick shift,” Singer said.
Singer, a huge “Star Wars” fan, has loved movies and prosthetics since childhood. At 12, Singer was checking out library books about monster makeup. At 13, Singer created his own “Planet of the Apes” prosthetic from a “do it yourself” book, he said.
In 1990, Singer graduated from the New York University Film School and then headed to Los Angeles, where Singer worked as a special effects artists for Emmy and Academy Award-winning film and TV projects, such as “The X-Files,” “Stargate,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and “Spiderman,” according to the Mid-South Effects website.
Today, through the Dermaflage website, Singer offers a “topical scar filler.” The website says Singer serves as director of research and development for Memphis-based Silicone Arts Laboratories, lectures at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center on Maxillofacial Prosthetics as part of the dental restorative program and works closely with dermatologists and surgeons.
“It’s rewarding to work with people that are missing part of their faces due to accidents or cancer,” Singer said.
If You Go
What: Shrek the Musical
When: 7 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday; and at 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Auditorium of Coal City High School Auditorium, 655 W. Division St.
Tickets: $5. Tickets go on sale 1 hour prior to performance. Auditorium doors open 30 minutes prior to the performance. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the doors until every seat is occupied.
Visit: CCHShrek.weebly.com to order tickets, view cast list and for bios of the creative team,
Contact: 815-634-5039 ext 1723