78ºF

Bethune Elementary students perform scenes from 'Shrek' for Princess Fiona

Students meet actress Cameron Diaz via Skype

"Shrek" actress Cameron Diaz watches via Skype as students from Bethune Elementary School of the Arts perform a scene from their new musical based on the film.
"Shrek" actress Cameron Diaz watches via Skype as students from Bethune Elementary School of the Arts perform a scene from their new musical based on the film.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Students from Bethune Elementary School of the Arts had the opportunity to perform for actress Cameron Diaz during class on Wednesday afternoon.

Diaz, who voiced  Princess Fiona in the "Shrek" movie series, met the students via Skype and offered them acting tips for their upcoming production of "Shrek the Musical Jr."

"She said the performance blew her away," Ruth Johnson, a specialist in innovative programs for Broward County Public Schools, said. "She had tissues, dabbing her eyes, because it was such a powerful performance."

Bethune Elementary is part of Turnaround Arts, which is a federal program that brings arts education to schools in need.

The program is in effect in 49 schools in 14 states and has the backing of the White House, as well as support from such stars as Kerry Washington, Sarah Jessica Parker, Yo-Yo Ma and Chuck Close.

Diaz became the Turnaround Arts artist for Bethune Elementary in 2015 and has Skyped students and shown her support throughout the school year ever since.

"All children deserve to have access to the arts, not only to discover their passion, but as a tool to engage them in the joy of learning," Diaz told the Sun Sentinel in June 2015. "I look forward to working to inspire the students at Bethune Elementary … to discover and reach for their dreams."

Amid her tears, Diaz now witnessed the fulfillment of her hopes for these students.

"Here, students are not focusing on art for art sake, but for curriculum," Laura Glick, a Turnaround Arts coordinator, said. "We see them wanting to come to school and excited to go to their art integration classes."

About 100 students will be showcased in their production of "Shrek the Musical Jr." on May 24 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts at 7 p.m. Tickets are free to the public.

Johnson said students have been working hard and are even more excited after Diaz's feedback.

"(Diaz) said, 'The great thing is they took the performance and made it their own. They weren't trying to mimic anyone,'" Johnson said. "It was so endearing to see them have this moment, especially with someone they normally wouldn't be able to spend an hour of their lives with."