Shrek’ sets stage for family reunion

MIDDLEBURY — Serena Eddy-Guiles has used the stage as a dramatic platform on which to share her creativity in dozens of theater productions throughout high school, and well into adulthood with the Middlebury Community Players.
All those past performances are leading up to what Eddy-Guiles anticipates could be the most memorable role in her life: Sharing the stage with three generations of her family as part of The Company at Town Hall Theater’s staging of “Shrek the Musical,” which opens this Thursday, Nov. 7.
Six members of the Eddy-Guiles clan will either be performing on stage, directing behind the scenes or making music for what will be the first of many productions to be staged by The Company, a homegrown professional thespian troupe that will be based at the Town Hall Theater.
“Shrek the Musical” is based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks film featuring the humorous and poignant story of a homely ogre (Shrek) who shows up to rescue a feisty princess (Fiona). The cast includes a talkative donkey, a short-tempered villain, and more than a dozen other fairy tale misfits, according to the play narrative. ?
“It’s so much fun to see,” Eddy-Guiles, who will play a dragon and is working on costuming, said of the on-stage family reunion.
The senior-most member of the clan needs little introduction. Marshall Eddy, 74, has been a beloved art teacher at Middlebury Union High School for more than four decades. He more than knows his way around a stage, having been a director of the MUHS senior play and a veteran actor in local community theater offerings such as “Guys and Dolls,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Pirates of Penzance” and “Oliver.” He has also lent his baritone pipes as a soloist with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. If that weren’t enough, he also founded a student mime group at MUHS that had a nice, 12-year run.
“He was my favorite teacher,” Eddy-Guiles said of her dad. “There are so many people who come up to me on the street and say things like, ‘Your father saved my daughter’s life; she didn’t know where to turn and he gave her purpose.’ (My father) makes everyone feel important and successful.”
Marshall Eddy had grown increasingly content in recent years to enjoy theater from the audience seats.
“Frankly, I never thought I would be in another musical,” he said. “And I knew I didn’t want to do any more leads.”
But Eddy started to soften his stance following some gentle prodding from Tim Guiles, Serena’s husband, who is The Company’s stage director, musical director and orchestra conductor for “Shrek the Musical.”
“Tim started dangling this role (of “Papa Ogre”), saying ‘There’s a really good part there for some older guy; I hope we can find the right guy,’” Eddy said with a smile. “They kind of started to work on me.”
Tim Guiles must have been quite convincing, as Marshall Eddy agreed to take on not only “Papa Ogre,” but also the roles of “Papa Bear,” a guard, a knight, a villager and a bishop. Several actors involved in the “Shrek” production are taking on multiple roles.
“I’m actually finding that this a challenge I’ve never faced before,” he noted of the different singing harmonies, rapid costume changes and other tasks that go along with the “Shrek” production. It’s a challenge Eddy confessed he would not have taken on had there not been so many other family members involved in the production.
That family angle also sold Stan Eddy, Serena’s brother, on becoming involved in “Shrek.”
Stan Eddy had not done any theater work since he was a senior at MUHS a few decades ago.
“I was all set to enjoy the rest of the family in the play,” he said matter-of-factly.
But Stan, like his dad, had his breaking point. His came when he was offered the role of Pinocchio.
“I thought of my seven-year-old and how thrilling it would be for him to see me on stage as Pinocchio,” said Stan Eddy, the self-proclaimed family “goofball” who fabricated his own articulating nose for the performance.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform with three generations of the family,” Stan Eddy added.
From there, it wasn’t tough at all to convince a few members of the third (and youngest) generation of the family to join the fold.
Kess Moulton, Serena’s 14-year-old daughter, signed on to play the young “Fiona” as well as one of the Three Blind Mice and one of the Three Little Pigs.
“It is so much fun to have so many parts,” Kess said. “It’s great to have so much to do.”
Her brother, 17-year-old Max Moulton, will also be juggling a lot of different assignments, albeit in the orchestra pit. The musical virtuoso will play a whopping six instruments, including the baritone, tenor and soprano saxophones; the clarinet; a bass clarinet; and the flute.
“When you watch him play, it’s an athletic event,” Tim Guiles said of the young Moulton, a member of the much acclaimed MUHS Jazz Band.
Max Moulton had an interest in acting, but that gradually took a backseat to academics, sports and music.
“The pit orchestra is less of a time commitment,” he said with a smile.
“Shrek the Musical” will be performed on Nov. 7, 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees set for Nov. 10, 16 and 17. Tickets are $23 for adults, $18 for children.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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