PLAYBILLDER Spotlight: This California High School's Shrek Is Their Biggest, Most Expensive Show Yet | Playbill

Education News PLAYBILLDER Spotlight: This California High School's Shrek Is Their Biggest, Most Expensive Show Yet

At West High Performing Arts, teamwork and self-respect are taught on the stage.

Welcome to PLAYBILLDER Spotlight, where Playbill highlights shows and events from educational institutions around the country (who have used Playbill's program-building service). By welcoming these PLAYBILLDERs center stage, we hope to give our readers a more in-depth look at theatre programs that are fostering the love of the performing arts in the next generation.

Guide: How To Build Your Own Custom Program with PLAYBILLDER

This week's spotlight is West High Performing Arts Center of Torrance, California, and their production of Shrek The Musical. Based on the Oscar-winning film, Shrek The Musical features songs from Jeanine Tesori and a book by David Lindsay-Abaire. The story of an unlikely hero and a wisecracking Donkey and their mission to rescue a feisty princess is irreverent fun for the whole family. 

Theater & Artistic Director Christy Orabuena shared with Playbill how she knows she's reaching students through her teaching, and her 14-year plan to grow her school's performing arts program. 

West High Performing Arts Center's Shrek the Musical

Tell us a little about yourself. How many years have you been teaching?
Christy Orabuena: 
I have been teaching at my high school for 21 years. I attended my high school as a student and I am so proud to be back as the theatre teacher. 

What is your proudest moment as an educator?
My proudest moments as an educator are any time I see my students growing and succeeding as adults. I love when I see pictures of them hanging out 10 years later. It shows me that the friendships that were created in my program are meant to last a lifetime. I am the most proud of the relationships that have formed over the last 21 years. Just this past month, I had a former student text me a picture of him in his theatre sweatshirt in celebration of our opening night. Even though he is now 28 and lives across the country, he took the time to send his best wishes to the kids in the cast. These text messages keep me going as an educator, as we are never sure if we are reaching the students.

Can you share a little bit about the value you see in having a performing arts program in schools?
Having the performing arts in school is so important to give kids an outlet to be creative and to be involved. I love how we teach teamwork, problem solving, and self-respect through productions.

West High Performing Arts Center's Shrek the Musical

How does your school’s performing arts programs impact your community?
Our community is very supportive of my program. We perform for the local elementary schools each year. Our performance includes opportunities for the younger students to take pictures with the cast and have a Q&A session. This has become an awesome event because we have learned that it might be the first or only time that a child has seen live theatre.

What shows are your kids obsessed with right now?
My kids are obsessed with Little Shop of Horrors, The Wiz, Waitress, and Cabaret. Anything current.

What are your dreams for how your drama department can grow?
My dream for the next 14 years is to create a fine arts magnet at my school. I would love it if kids could complete core classes in the morning and then take only performing arts classes in the afternoon. That's my dream, and I am going to make it happen.

West High Performing Arts Center's Shrek the Musical

Tell us a little bit about the production. What made you pick the show? How do you choose shows for your students?
I choose shows based on the talent that I have that year. I have a lot of talented kids this year and Shrek provided the amount of roles I needed. I also needed a well-known show for our audience. After COVID, I wanted to do five years of big musicals with name-recognition to get the audience back in the seats.

What did the kids love about the show?

The kids loved the music and they loved dancing in Duloc. They just love to perform. They were most proud of how all the design elements in the show turned out. It was the biggest, most expensive show we had ever done.

What message do you have for your students as they take the stage?
I always tell my kids to have fun, be in the moment, and go for it. It becomes their show once we open. They should be confident in their choices and enjoy every moment because it will not last forever.

What reactions do you expect to see in students when they see their name printed in this Playbill for the first time?
I am sure they will have pure joy and excitement, but it will also be important to them as they have put in so much hard work to make the show amazing.

West High Performing Arts Center's Shrek the Musical

To design Broadway-quality programs for your next show, head to Who knows, you might just be featured in our next PLAYBILLDER Spotlight! And if you are looking for a beautiful way to display your Playbills, click here to purchase Playbill frames.

Today’s Most Popular News:

Blocking belongs
on the stage,
not on websites.

Our website is made possible by
displaying online advertisements to our visitors.

Please consider supporting us by
whitelisting with your ad blocker.
Thank you!