Her debut as a director is a “dream come true” for Jodi Diderrich, who is opening the Lakeside Players season Friday at the Rhode Center for the Arts, 514 56th St.

“I’ve always loved theater,” she said. “As a kid, my sisters and I would make up plays and just do them. It was so much fun.”

Diderrich, an English as a second language teacher at Gateway Technical College, loves teaching the 26-child cast of “Shrek the Musical Jr.”

“Every kid here wants to be here and be the best they can be,” she said.

“Shrek the Musical Jr.” is based on the Oscar-winning animated film and tells the story of Shrek (played by Kameron Schueneman), an ogre who finds the swamp he calls home invaded by fairy tale creatures banished by Lord Farquaad (Lucas Alumbreros).

Given the task to rescue Princess Fiona (Evelyn Alumbreros) to return his swamp to normal, he sets off on this quest with his sidekick, a wisecracking donkey (Myles Lloyd).

“We have a really talented cast,” she said. “Our leads are amazing. They came with amazing talent, both acting and singing.”

Throughout the course of the play, the audience learns about a curse on princess Fiona. She turns into an ogre at night and can only be saved by a kiss from someone who truly loves her.

“The show is all about acceptance,” said Diderrich. “It’s all about taking people as they are.”

She had some help with the set from Elaine Asma, a co-worker, and her daughter Maddy.

“This was an immense undertaking,” Diderrich said as she described the elaborated set.

But they all were thrilled with how it turned out and it rekindled a passion for the arts in Asma.

When asked about what she hopes the audience will take from the play, Diderrich replied, “It’s going to be touching. It’s going be so amazing. They’re going be just thrilled when they see how these kids have come together and made this into their own show.”

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