As the Good Company Players production of “Shrek” enters its closing weekend, a story comes to light I want to share. It’s an example of how local theater can be, well, more than theater. Anyone’s who been in a show knows that a cast can become a family. Nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to George Akina, who plays Shrek’s father and a palace guard in the show.
Akina is a community theater veteran well-known for bringing a warmth and gentleness to his roles at Children’s Musical Theaterworks and CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre. It was long one of his dreams to audition for a Good Company musical, and at the beginning of this year, now that his kids were grown and work schedules allowed, there was more time to do this. He auditioned in January and was cast as the Rabbi in “Fiddler on the Roof.”
In March, a year after a normal PSA test, George was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer that had already spread to his spine.
For some, that would have meant their last show. Not Akina. He joined the cast of “Shrek,” and he’s remained in the show even as subsequent bone scans have shown that his bone cancer has spread throughout his entire skeleton. It isn’t easy. There are performances that he is not able to dance because he doesn’t have the energy. Because of chemotherapy, sometimes he can’t sing because the treatment affects his voice.
But he still goes on, sometimes with a cover reciting his lines.
His wife, Jenny Akina, writes:
The reason I am writing this is to commend the Good Company Players family for their incredible support and allowing George to continue to do what he loves. I have been very impressed and am sincerely thankful. George has a great faith and a wonderful attitude and I am so proud of him and so grateful to the theater community for caring about George. He still gives his best and loves being on stage entertaining. He is certainly acting “well” these days. The show goes on, and it brings George great joy!
If you happen to be at “Shrek’s” last performance on Sunday, offer a special round of applause for a very special theater lover.