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A production that shares the message of accepting yourself is allowing two students to better accept their roles in military families.
The leads of the North Hardin High School choir’s production of “Shrek the Musical” are handling the spotlight while dealing with their mothers’ deployments. Senior Monazia Smith and sophomore Glenn Williams are finding support through the choir and the musical, which is performed at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 and 3 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Hardin County Schools Performing Arts Center at John Hardin High School.
Smith and Williams always have loved theater. Williams, playing Shrek, has taken on lead roles before, while Smith, playing Princess Fiona, is new to the job of a lead performer. Both students found the audition process overwhelming in different ways.
“It was fun,” Smith said, “but stressful and competitive at the same time.”
As for Williams, he wasn’t sure he wanted to play Shrek.
“It was kind of like, ‘why am I doing this?’” he said. “I didn’t want to be a big green ogre.”
Williams remained convinced he wouldn’t be playing the part when he looked at the list of character assignments.
“When I first looked at the list, I didn’t even look at the top because I knew the lead would be at the top,” he said.
Smith went through the audition process without her mother, but her mother still found a way to help. She called Smith the night before the roles were assigned to pray with her. Smith shared the good news on Facebook and her mother’s response was filled with colorful and animated emoticons. It was a clear sign of her excitement.
“She sent me all kind of emojis, and my mom doesn’t use emojis,” she said.
Smith said it’s hard to know her mother will miss her debut as a leading lady.
“My mom was always one of the most supportive people in my family,” she said.
Williams learned recently his mother would deploy soon before the show. He’s sad, he said, but also happy for what the deployment will mean for her career.
The students have found a willingness among other choir members to step up and check in on them, even among those who auditioned for the same part.
“I’ve been surprised by how supportive everyone was,” Smith said.
Choir Director Beth Root said she thinks the arts can provide an outlet for students’ struggles, to help them get “through some of those times that might not be so easy to get through.”
Root said the two “have thrown themselves into the play,” and she sees their tenacious approach to getting through their mothers’ absences.
“They’re not going to let the school year be ruined,” she said.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at 270-505-1747 or firstname.lastname@example.org.