The tech crew at Dobbs Ferry High School is called “The Rat Pack,” and its three seniors — Vincent Laino, Ryan Mitchell and Philip Monteiro — are its leaders, its Frank, Dean and Sammy, working under tech director Tsha Gregory.
“The three of us take care of the designing of everything and we usually have the younger members run everything,” says Laino (inset). “We show them how it’s done and then they do it. We set the lights and the cues and they run them during the show.”
The task at hand this week is “Little Shop of Horrors,” the Alan Menken/Howard Ashman musical about a Skid Row boy and his man-eating plant. The cast includes junior Nikki Greenwald as Seymour, senior Chloe Cottineau as Audrey, Matthew McCormick as Mushnik, Christian Flynn as the sadistic dentist Orrin Scrivello, and — in a bold break from the ordinary, senior Beckett Morris as the killer plant, Audrey 2, freed from the oversized pod that is traditional for the role. This Audrey 2 has an expressive face and arms and attitude.
Laino, 17, a Dobbs senior has worked on “close to 50 shows,” between his work backstage at Dobbs Ferry and at Lighthouse Youth Theater, the outfit run by his uncle, John Fanelli. For years, it was in Thornwood. Now it’s in Armonk.
“I started at Lighthouse about six years ago,” he says. “I started acting but then I did crew for one show and I fell in love with it. The things I learned under John, I brought back here, everything from lights to sound.”
He’ll take what he has learned to either Ithaca College or Emerson next fall, and plans to learn more.
(“I’ve got a tough choice to make,” he says.)
Wherever he ends up, he’s open to the experience, he says on a break from fixing a wobbly door jamb.
“One thing John taught me was if you don’t know what you’re doing, ask for help. People will respect you for asking for help,” Laino says. “All the tech directors I’ve worked with, including John, if I have a question, I’ll give them a call. I’ll say ‘Our tech director wants to do this, how do I go about doing it?’ And they usually can answer. It’s important to make sure everything is done right, and safely. That’s one of my biggest worries is safety. We don’t want people getting hurt.”
Frank always looked out for Dean and Sammy, too.
“Little Shop of Horrors”—7 p.m., April 24, 25—$10, $7 students—914-693-7645.
Here’s the Running Lines video I shot at Dobbs Ferry. Enjoy!