CLUTE — Unlike in the animated movie, visitors were welcomed this weekend to hang out with Shrek in the swamp.

Cast members of “Shrek: The Musical” put on a show for families Saturday during the “Swap-E-Que” at Brazosport’s Center for Arts and Sciences, generating interest in the community for the upcoming production, which opens Friday.

Children were invited to interact with characters including Donkey, Fiona and Shrek as they enjoyed food, music and singing based around the fairy tale comedy.

Show director Cindy Gernand said she appreciates the rare opportunity for cast members to engage with the community and give them a chance to see the characters up close.

“It’s fun, and it gives us a cool preview of everything,” Gernand said.

Cade Chesser, who portrays Lord Farquaad in the show, was excited to see the children’s reactions to the characters and get a preview of his upcoming performance.

“It was awesome. It was such a blast,” Chesser says. “It’s always such a fun time because you get to see pure excitement from them that they don’t get on an everyday basis. So being able to help them reach that level of excitement is really rewarding”

The lunch exceeded the families’ expectations, and the children were thrilled to see and speak with their favorite characters.

Terry Gonzales, who attended with her granddaughter, Izabella, said she was grateful she found out about the event and Izabella was able to experience the art firsthand.

“I feel very lucky to be here today,” she says. “All the children are familiar with Shrek, so this is an important opportunity for them.”

The lunch doubled as a fundraiser for the costs of the play, but the event was about more than money for many of the cast members and the directors who attended. They wanted people to get excited about the play and interact with the characters off-script.

“We don’t want to just raise funds,” Gernand said. “It’s also making an attempt to raise awareness of the play going on here and that kind of thing.”

Cast members said they are excited to finally be able to perform next weekend.

“We’ve all been working very hard, it’s taken countless hours to get to where we are,” says Chesser. “I’m really excited for it. This has been a really challenging role in all aspects but seeing the excitement grow in the cast as well as from the public has made everything so worthwhile that I’m just very excited to have an audience to show the art that we’ve been working on.”

So far, the show has already sold three full nights of tickets, Chesser said.

“Make sure that everyone comes out to see it,” he said.

“Shrek: The Musical” runs Friday through July 21 in the Freeport LNG Theater at the Center for the Arts and Sciences, 400 College Blvd. Tickets are $22 for adults and $16 for students. Call 979-265-7611 or visit bcfas.org for information and showtimes.

Miriam Jewell is an intern with The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0145.

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