Happily Ever After: Shrek 2 and Defying Self Expectations

By: Yair Shavrick  |  March 22, 2020

By Yair Shavrick, Staff Writer

I recently took part in the Shrek 2 staged reading, and it was a complete success. With most of the seats in the audience filled with an enthusiastic crowd waiting to experience a comedic show, the excitement was palpable. When the show ended there was a feeling of relief and complete euphoria as the actors and actresses took their bows, but there is a lot more to putting on a show than one might think. 

The first thing to understand is the time commitment everyone put into the show. With late-night rehearsals being three times a week, some of us grew weary of the tedious repetition of scenes and choreography. As I played Shrek, I personally lost some enthusiasm at our final dress rehearsal when my entire face was painted with the wrong type of green makeup, and after hours of fruitless scrubbing, I was still green the next day. Thankfully, Sarit Perl worked out the makeup fiasco and was able to provide the proper product.  

Leah Schewitz, who played Puss in Boots, shared her thoughts with me on partaking in the performance: “Being part of the drama societies has helped me create a community for myself. I love the support from everyone. Everyone involved is there to have fun and be creative. I’ve met some of my closest friends through this club and I’m so grateful to be a part of it!” The feelings of comradery, support, and friendship that accompanied the show were unmatched to any of the participants’ previous Yeshiva University experiences.

I auditioned for a small part and was shocked when Eli Azizollahoff, President of the Stern College Dramatics Society, and Yaacov Siev, President of the Yeshiva College Dramatics Society, cast me as ogre-Shrek. This title role came with anxiety and self-doubt in my abilities as an actor. The first read-through came,and my Scottish accent was so terrible it had the rest of the cast in hysterics. I sounded like Gru from the Minions series paired with a stereotypical Russian accent. Immediately after this, I was approached by many people eager to assist in my learning of the ogre-Shrek role. 

This was one of the few cherished things I acquired from the show. The sense of community was astonishing and warm. The amount of “You can do this!” and “You were amazing!” lines I heard among the cast were innumerable. The smiles that accompanied everyone throughout the process were more than I’d seen for a long time on campus. Aside from putting on a rag-tag show, a community of friends was built. I always looked forward to rehearsals just to spend time with the awesome crew members. As a fellow actress Eliana Lindenberg said, “Being in the staged reading was incredible! I had the best time fostering relationships with new friends, as well as people I had only been friendly with before. Ten [out] of ten would participate again!”

As the show started and I heard Eli’s voice reading the narration, my heart rate skyrocketed. I slumped down onto the wall and floor, and time slowed to a blistering halt. I regressed to my original, self-doubting thought process with less than a minute to my cue for taking the stage. Then I looked around to my fellow cast members and saw nothing but supportive smiles accompanying me to the stage door. I got up, confidently, with the energy of the cast behind me. The music started, the audience cheered, and I danced my way onto the stage with a big, goofy smile on my face.