By David Garcia
Once again against all the challenges that covid presents, the theatre company puts on another amazing musical performance with Shrek The Musical. This spring production was about a green ogre (played by the one and only Joseph St George) named Shrek, who after being mocked and feared his entire life, decides to live in isolation at a repulsive green swamp. Shortly after, numerous fairy-tale characters (such as Pinocchio, a talking donkey, and the Three Pigs) barge into his swamp. Shrek’s solution to this issue is to help all of the intruders take back their homes. Things change when Shrek meets Farquaad, he strikes another offer. This offer will also help the animals by giving their homes back, but in return Farquaad wants Shrek to rescue Princess Fiona. He accepts the offer but then finds something interesting about this princess – he likes her – a lot, but he’s confused about one thing: Why does she always run off when the sun goes down?
Shortly after the musical was recorded, I interviewed two of the actors featured in this production. I asked questions about the production, what made it different from previous productions, and how they prepared for it. When I asked how Shrek was different from previous productions, I received two similar answers from actors Joe St George and Allison Humanitzki. They both stated how the one major thing that all the actors kept in mind was that instead of performing in front of an audience live, this musical was going to be recorded and be seen online. Secondly, all actors had to wear face shields during the filming process and according to Joe St George, “It presented many challenges, and at times made the scenes feel awkward, but I feel we did a great job.” I also asked how long the cast and crew rehearsed and was told that they all rehearsed for about 3 and a half months. After all of the effort that the talented cast members put into rehearsing and recording, the production will be one to remember in Centereach High School history. I also wanted to know more about the recording of the production so I asked how the production was filmed and the difficulties of that. I was surprised with the responses I got. According to both Joe and Allsion Humanitzki, they recorded all the music and sounds in the choir room for two weeks, and after that they recorded all of the show and during the music they would lip sync and the music recorded earlier would be edited on after. Also when they recorded the music they all had to record while socially distanced in groups of one to four. I was also interested in knowing if anyone was in the audience when they recorded or performed. I was told by both actors I interviewed that no one was in the audience except for production staff and the running backstage crew. They did have a program where you could pay $5 to have a picture of someone printed and taped onto a seat to make the last day of filming feel a bit more authentic to the cast. One last thing to note is that according to Joe St George, “Our parents came together and gave us a big surprise driveby while we were still all in costume. It was truly a special day.” This is heartwarming to hear and honestly the cast deserves this and much more for the amazing amount of effort they put into this year’s musical.
Finally for my last question, I asked about what they learn from this year’s musical production and what they also learned from the covid restrictions that were imposed during the production. The first one to answer was the Stagemaster of the musical Allison Humanitzki who answered by saying, “It’s fairly hard to organize a backstage full of cast members and props while also trying to keep distance.” Joe St George said, “Despite our challenges, we pulled through and made one of the best productions Centereach has ever seen, even against all of the odds.” He also thanked the hard work that some of the faculty members put in, including Mr. Hough, Mr. Gatta, Ms. Arizmendi, and Mr. Schaarschmidt. Joe also stated, “The journey to finally getting this musical on the stage and seeing it happen wasn’t an easy one, and for that, I think the entire cast and crew deserves a lot of credit.” He ended his answer to this question by saying, “…this production has taught him to cherish the good times with the right people and to make sure they know that their hard work and commitment never goes unnoticed.” After talking with Joe and Allison, showed how hard the cast, crew, and advisors worked to make the 2021 musical an amazing production.