By Ashley Solomon, Staff Writer
On October 28th, the Yeshiva College and Stern College Dramatics Societies performed The Wizard of Oz at the Schottenstein Theatre, after only 24 hours of preparation. From Saturday night at 8 p.m. to Sunday night at 8 p.m. (when the show began), members of the board, as well as several other volunteers, rushed to practice the script, design and create the set, set up the lights and sound system, and prepare costumes and makeup.
Shoshy Ciment, the president of SCDS, believes that the show wouldn’t have been possible without the members of YCDS and SCDS, saying, “[I] decided to bring the 24-Hour Show to Yeshiva University after hearing about how successful the event had been at other colleges. Although most things were done during the 24 hours… a ton of preparation was required before the event. We had to adapt the script, figure out our lights, and plan every minute of how the night would run to make sure we’d have a full show for an audience. With very little sleep and tons of coffee, we pulled off an event for the books – the first of its kind at Yeshiva University!”
The 24 hours used to prepare for the play were abuzz with activity. Participants spoke of the quick nature of auditions and the wonder of the first read-through. Brielle Broder, SCW ’20, who played the lead role of Dorothy, says, “Everyone brought their own flavors to their characters, and even though we were all sitting down, I could clearly picture how we would look on-stage. This image was spectacularly brought to life by our directors Eli Aziz and Matthew Shilat. Their dedication to getting everything exactly right, and the ease with which they did so, motivated us actors to push through the exhaustion, even as we reached the 4 a.m. mark. It’s not easy to get around the kol isha issues involved in singing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow,’ but with Matthew Shilat’s help, Dorothy was able to dramatically sing her heart out, while simultaneously not saying a word.”
Despite having only 24 hours to prepare for the show, it proved to be a huge success, which many felt was a testament to the talented and hardworking students of Yeshiva University. Yaacov Siev, the president of YCDS says, “Giving up a free weekend, working on little to no sleep, and subsisting mostly on coffee, the cast and crew of the show put together a stellar performance with fantastic acting, technical prowess, and clever resourcefulness in terms of costumes, set, and props.”
Matthew Shilat, YC ’21, acted as the co-director and also had cameos in a few scenes. He felt that working on the show was an enjoyable and enriching experience. He says, “I’ve worked in theater for a long time, but I’d never done a 24-hour show before, so I didn’t know how it would go. I had the pleasure of working with amazing actors and actresses who fit their roles perfectly. They are the reason this show worked in such a short time. I am so proud of the work they put in and beyond impressed by their efforts and talent.”
Many of the students who watched the show believe that the hard work the actors (and everyone else involved) put into the show paid off. The show had great reviews, and many students expressed how impressed they were, especially since the talented members of YCDS and SCDS adapted the original script of The Wizard of Oz into a funny and Jewish-themed show that many YU students would be able to appreciate. Yaakov Samel, YC ’20, says, “The show was hilarious and cute. They had a really nice culturally Jewish adaptation that made the classic even more endearing. It was a pleasant experience from start to finish.”
Even with so little time to prepare, the actors and actresses learned their lines with lightning speed and put on a memorable performance. Many students were pleasantly surprised that such a moving performance could be prepared in such a short amount of time. Sophie Ostrow, SCW ’20, shares, “The concept of a 24-hour production was a mystery to me. I was so confused about how they could put together a whole play in just 24 hours, but they did a phenomenal job! I especially loved the tin (wo)man and the lion!” The theatre was filled with many students who expressed the same sentiment.
All in all, the show was a great success for its inaugural year. Those involved had a great time preparing and performing the show, and those who watched the show said it was fantastic. YCDS and SCDS hope to continue this tradition in future years, and hopefully, the participation and viewership will only continue to grow.