“It’s such a creative place and there’s so much more to it than what the public usually sees.” – Alanna Smith

photo 1-1“As a Rochester native I’ve been going to Geva shows for as long as I can remember, so I was appropriately geeking out at the chance to get a glimpse behind the curtain through the Cohort Club.

The first rehearsal I attended was the first full read-through with the cast. When I walked in there was almost too much to look at: star power everywhere, gorgeous set and costume design sketches on the walls, a tiny stage diorama on the table, and of course food, which is always a plus.
When the read through started I was amazed by how quickly the actors were able to pick up the script and the music. It was like they’d been rehearsing for weeks, though I think some of them had just met hours before. And the accompanist was amazing. He led them along so fluidly and it was really something to see.

My little sister is part of the Rush-Henrietta High School production that will get to take the stage at the end of the show’s run, and the guy who’s going to play Mushnik in her cast got to sit in during the reading for Geva’s Mushnik, who was still on tour. I heard him afterward nervously laughing about that and joking “No big deal, right?”

It’s such an amazing opportunity for these kids to be able to see what a professional production entails. My sister is the dance captain for the high school production so she’s getting to work with and learn from a professional choreographer. I sat next to her Saturday and watched her take notes as Wendy Seyb choreographed “Mushnik and Son” on the spot with feedback from the two actors in the number and the director, Sean Daniels.

140968981514LittleShopVerticalIt’s a remarkably collaborative and organic process. I always thought the choreographer came in with a strict plan of how things were going to go, but everyone involved was suggesting ideas and bouncing things off each other and we got to watch it evolve into this hilarious, magical number.
It looked effortless once it was done, so much so that audiences won’t even realize on opening night that the actor playing Mushnik experimented several times with how long he’d hold his breath for comedic effect, or that the actor playing Seymour had to get falling over down to a science. So much thought goes into each aspect of a number, but it’s so organic at the same time. It was really fascinating to watch in its infancy.

And so much goes on at once. The puppeteer brought in some swatches of fabric for Audrey II while the wire frame of the puppet lay dormant in the corner of the room. While we were sitting in the rehearsal, a production of A Christmas Carol was going on downstairs. It’s such a creative place and there’s so much more to it than what the public usually sees.

I’m excited to keep attending the rehearsals as a Cohort Club member and I can’t wait to see the finished product!” – Alanna Smith


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