Interviewing Shrek The Musical's Natasha Cayabyab


Cara Doherty (she/her) interviews recent graduate about the musical theatre industry

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Image by Benkin Photography

By Cara Doherty

After enjoying the touring production of Shrek The Musical’s opening night at the Grand Opera House in November, I had the opportunity to interview ensemble member Natasha Cayabyab, a 2023 drama school graduate on the experience of her first professional credit.

How have you been finding Shrek The Musical?

“Working on Shrek has been so amazing! The show itself is so funny and I absolutely love my track. I have absolutely loved having family and friends seeing the show and finally understanding what I’ve been training for.”

What was your experience of getting the job?

“Shrek is actually my first job out of drama school! I was in my third year, doing Guildford panto, and going through a bit of a messy break-up. Classic post-breakup energy, I started self-submitting for literally everything I was right for on Spotlight – think LinkedIn for actors – when I came across Shrek, and was lucky enough to get an audition. The whole process took less than two weeks. The first round was a dance call, then there was a singing recall on the same day. The following week I had a singing and acting material call, followed the next day by a dance final, and a final singing and acting call on the Friday. I was offered the job the Monday after!”

What was the turnaround like from graduating to going straight into touring?

“I had one week off between my final performance of Cry-Baby and starting rehearsals which was wild! It’s been great being in a job in such a competitive industry from the get go, but it was knackering with such a little break. One of the craziest days was graduating in Guildford then driving four hours straight with my family to Plymouth ready to start the tech run for the show the next day, but it was so worth it getting to graduate with all my friends.”

Are you enjoying touring?

“Touring has been one of the craziest experiences, it’s so fun. The touring company are all super lovely and we get on like one big family. Being on a weekly touring schedule brings its own challenges, such as sometimes having to travel to your next venue on your day off, and having to find digs to live in each location which can get a bit tiring, but it’s all worth it.”

Can you tell me a little about your training?

“I have done ballet since about age five, and then drama classes a few years later. Then started tap and modern around age nine. I first started doing musical theatre properly aged ten at Berkshire Theatre School, who I owe so much to. When I turned 12 I successfully auditioned for Italia Conti where I went until I was sixteen, then I won a scholarship to ArtsEd Sixth Form. After sixth form I went to study musical theatre at Guildford School of Acting where I graduated from this July with a BA (First Class Honours) in Musical Theatre.”

Have you faced any setbacks? How did you overcome them?

“The main setbacks I’ve had have been in regards to my physical and mental health. In November 2021 I underwent shoulder surgery to repair my torn anterior capsule which was a huge setback in my second year of drama school but it was definitely the right choice. I have really struggled with bad mental health on and off which has been a huge challenge; in October last year I received a diagnosis of bipolar, but this was positive as I now take the appropriate medication to stabilise my moods and received treatment which had significantly improved my mental state.”

What’s next for you?

“After the tour, I’m hoping to join the already announced principal cast for the London stint at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London, for the summer season. This industry is super unpredictable so to be honest I have no idea what’s next! Hopefully an exciting project comes for September. Although I love working in musical theatre I’d also like to branch out into TV and film, as well as voiceover projects!”

Biggest advice for people looking at getting into the industry?

“My biggest advice for anyone looking to get into the industry is train as much as you can! Also self-tape vocal, acting and dance reels and set up a Spotlight account to post them, then look for agency representation!”

Natasha also kindly encouraged people to get in touch with her via Instagram (@tashacayabyab) if they are interested in specific advice!