Same Faces, New Places

Cory Dunn is the Production Manager at Gulfshore Playhouse.

You’ve never seen anything like Do This before at Gulfshore Playhouse.

We’ve produced world premieres before, such as The God Game and The Butcher and we’ve produced one-person shows before, such as Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol. But Do This has something special in store for our audience. With Tony-nominee Carmen Cusack performing and Tony-nominee Sheryl Kaller directing, this production has taken Gulfshore Playhouse into uncharted territory, including a two-week rehearsal period in New York City.

Normally, Gulfshore Playhouse rehearses its shows here in Naples, Florida. However, because the rehearsal period for Do This took place close to the holidays and we have so many New York-based artists involved, we decided to host rehearsals at Primary Stages, a rehearsal studio smack dab in the middle of Manhattan. With rehearsals taking place so far from home, Kristen and I traveled to the city to represent the Playhouse as we embarked on this special journey with Sheryl, Carmen, and the playwright, Karen Siff Exkorn.

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Kristen and Cory at Rockefeller Plaza!

Even though we were in a new city, we still wanted it to feel like Gulfshore Playhouse in the room. For the first day of rehearsals, I picked up some classic New York bagels and cream cheese to celebrate the first read-through in the rehearsal room (something we usually do with our full GP staff). We also had a small meet and greet with our designers and Ken Davenport, a Broadway producer and our associate in the city who helped us find Karen’s play in the first place. We were also sure to pick-up as many supplies as we could to provide help us operate normally while away from Naples – with some major help from Don Myers, our Stage Manager, who donated some personal items to help get us through the two weeks.

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The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza

Don assisted us by picking up props as needed while we were in the city. These props included puzzles, games, and building blocks from the toy store. We also needed to pick up supplies for the costume department so that Genevieve Beller, our Costume Designer, could have Carmen try on some potential costume pieces before we got too far along in the process. This meant picking up a mirror from the store for the rehearsal room, and trust me, it was not easy getting a full-length mirror through Times Square in the middle of the holidays!

As we made our way through the two rehearsal weeks, Kristen and I tried our hardest to keep all of the other Gulfshore Playhouse projects on schedule despite being so far from home. Jeffrey Binder met us in the city to host auditions, Kristen met with Costume Designers and Scenic Designers for The Merchant of Venice and The Christians, and we both helped prepare the final designs for The Hound of the Baskervilles, which is coming up sooner than you’d think! It definitely helped that we had such an amazing team back in Naples who were so great at keeping us up-to-date on all happenings while we were away.

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Behind the scenes of a Playbill.com shoot with Carmen Cusack, star of Do This!

Two weeks later, and it was time to head back to Florida for the holidays. Now that we had purchased so many items that we wanted to use for the last week of rehearsals in Naples, we had to get them to travel with us. Genevieve and I stuffed costume pieces into our luggage so that we could dive right back into working on them when we arrived in Florida. I packed a large box full of all of our props, printer materials, and rehearsal supplies, loaded up the 50 lbs. box onto Don’s hand truck, and wheeled our New York life up through Times Square to FedEx (which was even harder than getting that mirror into the room!). Once we were all packed up and the room was cleared, we handed over the keys to the rehearsal space in New York City and began our journey back to our families.

Over the holiday weekend, I had the chance to truly reflect on the blessings I have been presented with here at Gulfshore Playhouse – the opportunity to work with such talented artists, in a city so far from home, and with the support of our wonderful staff back here in Naples. We truly work for a wonderful company, producing phenomenal and challenging theater in a supportive work environment, and I cannot wait for all of you to share in the life-changing experience that is Do This.

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