The Making of the Stage Door Project: Little Shop of Horrors, by Mr. Mushnik

Hello People of the Internet!

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Dave DiPrimo, Mr. Mushnik in Rush-Henrietta’s Little Shop of Horrors

My name is Dave DiPrimo. I’m a senior at Rush-Henrietta High School and I am playing Mr. Mushnik in a very special one-night-only performance of Little Shop of Horrors at Geva Theatre Center on February 10th. This amazing opportunity is Geva’s Stage Door Project! The program offers the rare experience for high school students like me, the rest of our cast, and students involved in the design, production, and marketing of the show to be fully immersed in and mirror Geva’s process of theatrical production.

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Dave with Geva’s Kristen Mengelkoch (Audrey) and Rush-Henrietta sound and marketing adult mentor Brian Bohrer at the first read through. Photo by Renee Veniskey of immagine Photography.

Geva’s education department started off the program with our cast when Skip Geer (Director of Education), Lara Rhyner (Associate Director of Education), and Sean Daniels (Geva’s Little Shop of Horrors director) came to our school and led us in an acting workshop and a discussion about Little Shop’s deeper meaning. After that, we were invited to the cast’s first read through! It was an exciting night for us as a cast and, as we got to see all the amazing actors in their natural environment, we saw their characters begin to form. Kristen (Audrey) and John (Orin/everyone else) came right over to us and made us all feel welcomed. Danny Rutigliano, the incredible actor who plays Mr. Mushnik in Geva’s LSOH, was on tour with a previous commitment, so at the end of act II, Sean Daniels came over to me and asked if I would read the part of Mushnik for the rest of the first read through. Naturally, I was incredibly nervous to be reading with a group of tremendously talented people with some lengthy credits. However, my nerves quickly went away and I had a blast, because the cast was not only funny and talented, but so very nice and supportive.

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The Rush-Henrietta cast of Little Shop of Horrors rehearsing in the Geva Nextstage during Magic in the Making

After that, our Rush-Henrietta cast attended several Geva rehearsals, observing, taking notes, and getting to know the Geva cast not only to as wonderful actors, but also as wonderful people. I was very excited to meet my mentor Danny, and I was so relieved to discover how nice and personable he was, and he even gave me advice for the process of developing my character! When our rehearsals finally started, we were all chomping at the bit to get on stage and create our own version of this wonderfully weird little show. Being able to observe the actors at Geva, how hard they work, and how they always make choices, has been especially helpful to me as a young actor and to the rest of our cast as well.

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Geva cast and Rush-Henrietta cast of Little Shop of Horrors at Geva’s final dress rehearsal. Photo by Huth Photo.

Another unforgettable experience that I was able to get from this great program came from a dress rehearsal that the Geva cast had. Danny had an emergency to attend to, so I was asked to read and sing through the entire show with the Geva cast! This time I had more than three seconds to prepare and wasn’t nervous at all (that’s a lie). Everyone was so nice and gracious that I was able to help them run their show, even though I anxiously stepped on some of their lines. Coming back the next night and seeing the preview performance was amazing. Everyone was so funny, they sounded and looked great, and it made me all the more excited to take that stage with my cast next month!

Thanks to the Stage Door Project, everyone at Geva, and our amazing theatre program at Rush-Henrietta, I’ve been able to have this once in a lifetime opportunity! I’m going to study graphic design in college, but I’ll always brag about my acting career – albeit short – and the time I worked with a cast of great friends and dirctors, amazing professional actors and their directors, all the great people at Geva, and a man-eating plant.

Please come out and see all our hard work come to life in Rush-Henrietta’s performance of Little Shop of Horrors! One-night-only on February 10 at 7:30PM at Geva Theatre Center. Tickets are only $14 and can be purchased online and through the Geva box office.

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