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The show must go on: Linganore community pulls together in time of need

Sophomore Allie Logue who played Fiona in this year’s production of Shrek looks out at the audience. (Photo by Mike Miller-used with permission)

After returning from spending spring break in Orlando, Florida, drama students at LHS were excited to begin the last two weeks of preparation before opening night of their spring musical, “Shrek”

However, they were quickly met by shocking news. 

While in Disney World, director Angela Smithhisler happened to read an article in TribLive about a Pennsylvania high school losing money to the same company they had hired to do for Shrek”. Out of caution, she attempted to reach back out to the company, only to get no response back. The website and email address had been deactivated. 

The costumes for the show, which had been rented for $8,000, would not be arriving. 

In an article with DC News Now, Smithhisler said, “They had just kind of closed up shop overnight, and there was no word of our “Shrek” costumes or the $8,000 that we had spent.” 

Unfortunately, this was not Linganore’s first major setback in staging the musical “Shrek”. A few months prior, a group of students broke into the auditorium and vandalized the sets, including writing slurs across the destroyed set pieces. 

Freshman Colette Riccio was working on the tech crew when they found out about the damage. 

“We mostly just painted over all of the vandalized set pieces with words written on them and put a few screws or nails in the broken pieces,” Riccio said. “Our director made an announcement explaining the situation, and we all did our best to fix the sets quickly and continue working.” 

Freshman Colette Riccio and junior Molly Stanfield worked on the set for Shrek. (Photo by Mike Miller-used with permission)

Once the sets were refurbished, things returned to normal for a few weeks. However, this respite did not last long. 

Dorothy Mcmillen, a junior at Linganore who has been participating in the tech crew for the past three years, found out about the costumes after returning from spring break. 

“I was very stressed, especially because a lot of the show relies on the costumes to fully convey the story,” Mcmillen said. “I wasn’t sure how we would be able to borrow, create or otherwise get costumes for the entire cast, and with less than two short weeks until opening night.” 

By  April 7, reporters arrived at Linganore to cover news of the story, which premiered on NBC4 Washington

The company claimed to have gone bankrupt; however, they never contacted Linganore any time during this process. NBC referred to the company as a “scam”. 

Linganore is not the first high school allegedly scammed by The Staging Workshop. Just a few weeks prior, Valley High School in Pennsylvania reported losing $8,000 to the company before their production of “The Addams Family,” according to TribLive

A sponsor of Valley High School’s drama program said the company promised delivery of their costumes by April 1. When nothing had arrived, the company promised tracking information would be sent out by the end of the day. The tracking information never arrived, and the company stopped responding to communications. 

Senior Austin Heeley who starred as Shrek looked at himself in the dressing room mirror before one of the performances.
(Photo by Mike Miller-used with permission)

According to The Cyber Express, money lost to imposter businesses has rapidly risen over the past few years, jumping from $196 million in 2020 to $660 million in 2022. 

An article from Norton in 2023 said, “These fake sites are so well-made that even expert eyes can be fooled. And they’re not just a local problem. These con artists operate on a global scale, creating multiple counterfeit sites across different languages and countries.” 

Now that these website scams are increasing in popularity, online shoppers should be very careful about what they are purchasing. 

“It’s so unfortunate that this group would be OK with taking advantage of high school arts programs,” Smithhisler said in her interview with TribLive. “We pay for our costuming and show licenses straight from previous ticket sales and donations. We do not receive any money or funding from the county or school.” 

Fortunately, the publicity of this event actually had a positive effect on the program. 

Junior Quinn Hatmaker was excited to play the role of one of the Three Little Pigs. (Photo by Mike Miller-used with permission)

After a GoFundMe entitled “Shrek Emergency Costume Drama Booster Fund,” was created, an overwhelming amount of donations from the community immediately started coming in. Supportive messages from local community members were also left on the GoFundMe wishing the cast and crew a great performance. 

“I’m so glad at the response from our community. Almost overnight, we got back even more than we lost,” Mcmillen said.

As of May 1, approximately $12,000 was raised. 

By opening weekend, Linganore’s production of “Shrek” was in full swing. Schools and local theater groups had stepped up to donate costumes from past productions, and the funds raised were used to purchase costumes online and rent from Flo’s Costume Service

Senior Victoria Pietanza, the dragon, and junior Luka Van Herksen, the donkey, sang together on stage. (Photo by Mike Miller-used with permission)

Patricia Moses, a junior at Linganore, attended the show on opening night. 

“In the cast, there wasn’t one person who lacked singing or acting talent,” Moses said. The show balanced physical and eccentric humor with power ballads such as “Freak Flag”, which preach[es] messages of self-acceptance and confidence.” 

“Shrek was really funny,” said performer Logan Wall’s sister, Sarah Wall, who went to see the performance on Friday. “All the actors did really well, including the stage crew with the sets.” 

The cast’s strong physicality and powerful vocalizing kept the high energy throughout the show. Impressions of notable characters from the 2001 movie were also spot-on. 

The live pit’s performance was well-balanced with a strong sound that blended harmoniously with the actors. 

“It was a great show; the pit was amazing!” audience member Brigid Malone said. 

Moses agreed with Malone’s 


Sophomore Emily Eldrigde plays the saxophone in the pit.
(Photo by Mike Miller-used with permission)

“It was probably the best school musical production I’ve ever seen performed live,” Moses said. 

This production of “Shrek” could not have been put together without the support of the community. In an interview with the Frederick News Post, Smitthisler said, “When you look outside and see that there are so many willing people, and a lot of them are complete strangers … it’s heartwarming and staggering to see the positive response.” 

Photos from the production are available to download here.

Visit the Linganore Drama website for updates on future productions.

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