Beaver Lake thespians take on the task of ‘Shrek’

March 25, 2014

By Neil Pierson

Carol Woodman has directed the annual Beaver Lake Middle School musical for 15 years, and she’s never had as much help as she’s got this year.

While middle-school drama clubs don’t typically have the same participation levels as their high-school counterparts, that might not be the case at Beaver Lake, where 89 students have been cast in roles for this year’s musical, “Shrek.”

That means Woodman, who teaches art and drama at the school, needs a lot of behind-the-scenes assistance.

By Neil Pierson Alexis Jucht (left) plays Princess Fiona and Hammer Shalawylo plays Donkey in Beaver Lake Middle School’s ‘Shrek.’

By Neil Pierson
Alexis Jucht (left) plays Princess Fiona and Hammer Shalawylo plays Donkey in Beaver Lake Middle School’s ‘Shrek.’

“It’s a big undertaking,” she explained. “High school has some advantages that middle school doesn’t have, and that has to do with kids who can sew and help make costumes, kids who can help make sets. We have to depend upon the parents to help do everything.”

Virtually every family with a child in the show has volunteered their time, Woodman said, as have several Beaver Lake staff members. Tina Worthington, the school’s choral teacher, is directing musical efforts on the show, based on four well-known animated movies and a Broadway performance.

The actors filling the lead roles of Shrek, Donkey and Princess Fiona all have their fair share of experience. And the interest level in the musical was so high that two people are sharing many parts.

Naeem Shook, who plays Shrek, is the most experienced actor in the show. In December, he performed in “Oliver!” with The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle.

Shook said that before his performance in Seattle, he had just done school shows.

“And it just opened up acting for me,” he said. “That’s something I want to do for the rest of my life.”

If you Go

– 7 p.m. March 27
and 28
– 2 and 7 p.m. March 29
– Tickets are $8 and can be purchase at the door or in advance through the school’s bookkeeper.
– Beaver Lake Middle School
– 25025 S.E. 32nd St.
– 837-4150

Performing with his friends has proved less stressful, Shook said.

“It’s just great to practice with friends — it’s not serious,” he said. “You’re just having fun. And it’s pressure, but it’s good pressure.”

Eighth-graders Alexis Jucht and Emma Fritton will split time as Princess Fiona. During the four performances that run March 27-29, they’ll rotate roles: One will play the princess in certain shows, while the other plays the ogre Fiona turns into.

Fritton began acting during her days at Cascade Ridge Elementary School, and has performed in Beaver Lake’s last two musicals, “The Wizard of Oz” and “Beauty and the Beast.” She said she enjoys the role of Fiona for its dual personalities.

“You get to have that cool little spark in you, and it’s just more fun to be an ogre — you get to be this green, ugly thing,” Fritton said. “This is definitely one of the best plays it could be for eighth-grade year.”

Jucht was also part of the school’s last two musicals, and said acting allows her to escape the traditional roles she has in real life.

“I love how you can be a different person,” she said. “I love how you can just go up there and you can completely be Fiona, who’s been stuck in a tower her whole life. Or you can be an ogre, who’s trying to hide who she actually is.”

Hammer Shalawylo, who will don a plaid suit and colorful makeup for the role of Donkey, said it’s been fun to get to know other students through the musical.

Shalawylo is performing in his ninth show, and while the script has been easy enough, some of the music has proven difficult.

“Definitely one of the harder songs I’ve done would be, ‘Don’t Let Me Go,’” he said. “That one is extremely hard, just because it goes from high to low and key changes in the middle of the song.”

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