Jerry’s Habima Theatre is known for showing audiences that actors with special needs can perform a professional show, but this year’s production of “Shrek the Musical, Jr.” also has been educational for the cast.
That’s because of the inclusion of 13-year-old Sadie Levy, a neurotypical Epstein School eighth-grader who is the youngest cast member.
“It’s been great working with all of these people,” Sadie said in a phone interview Friday, Feb. 26, the day after opening night at the Marcus Jewish Community Center. “I’ve learned they’re just normal people. They have different personalities and drama just like the rest of us.”
Sadie’s mother, Alane Levy, said the education has worked both ways.
“One of the young men expressed to me that they were so touched that she was willing to be a part of this at her age … to be there for them,” Levy said. “Now she’s like their little sister. They watch out for her.”
The Levys, who live in Peachtree Corners and are members of Congregation Or Hadash, had to push for Sadie to be part of the cast. Sadie did a stage workshop with Habima’s new director, Mary Nye Bennett, and asked whether she needed another person. Bennett initially said no because of her age but changed her mind when other people involved in the show backed Sadie’s involvement.
“Mary saw Sadie’s ability and wanted to give her a chance,” Levy said.
Sadie said she always went to the Habima shows as a little girl, and “I always thought it would be an amazing experience and a great thing to do.”
Still, Levy said her daughter needed some persuading to commit to spending a couple of hours a day, five days a week, for more than two months with castmates ages 18 to 70. Aside from one neighbor, Sadie hadn’t spent much time with people with special needs, especially adults, and she was nervous.
“It worked out so nicely,” said Levy, who grew up at Congregation Shearith Israel. Watching her onstage as young Fiona, a fairy-tale creature and part of the ensemble, “my husband and I were so proud that she put in all the work.”
Sadie came into “Shrek” with some acting experience in school shows such as “High School Musical” and various workshops and camps, and the future Weber School student isn’t ready to stop. She said, “If I get invited back, I’d love to do it again.”
What: “Shrek the Musical, Jr.”
Where: Marcus JCC, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 3, and Saturday, March 5, and 3 and 7 p.m. Sunday, March 6
Tickets: $25 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under for JCC members, $35 and $15 for nonmembers; www.atlantajcc.org/boxoffice