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Curtain call

Dash Mangrulkar’s final musical for Greenhills
Curtain call

As the curtains part, casting a warm glow on their face, surrounded by familiar faces in the audience, Dash Mangrulkar ’24 braces for the bittersweet moment of their final school musical performance.

This is especially sentimental for Mangrulkar, as they have been a part of Greenhills Performing Arts since their very first year at Greenhills, starting with the middle school musical Godspell

Mangrulkar has been a member of the choir since sixth grade and has performed in four musicals at Greenhills, their favorite one being the 2022 production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

“I put a lot of work into the audition for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” said Mangrukar. “I expected to be in the ensemble, but I got one of my first speaking roles in that show. It was one of the most fun shows I’ve ever done, and that was when my love for theater really started.”

They are now preparing to perform their senior show as one of the leads in Little Shop of Horrors.

“I can’t imagine doing any other show for senior year,” said Mangrulkar. “When I saw the cast list and found out I was playing one of the leads, it hit me that this was my last musical for this school. It was really emotional.”

Little Shop of Horrors revolves around Seymour, a florist who discovers a mysterious plant in his shop, and his love interest Audrey, a woman with a troubling life at home.

Mangrulkar is cast as Audrey in this dark comedy musical. 

“Audrey is the most troubled character I have ever played,” said Mangrulkar. “It’s tough and emotionally draining to get into her mindset.”

Typically, Audrey is portrayed as a stereotypical woman from the mid-20th century, who lives a household life and is dependent on her significant other. However, Mangrulkar strongly believes in playing Audrey differently than other adaptations of the musical. 

“I try to do Audrey justice,” said Mangrulkar. “Not like other people who portray her like arm candy. I want to break the stereotypes that come with Audrey as a character. When you think of Audrey, you think of a white, blonde girl. I knew that those descriptions didn’t fit who I am, so I had to interpret the character in my own way.”

This isn’t the first time Mangrulkar has faced challenges related to the lack of diversity in the theater world, however. 

Last year, Mangrulkar made the decision to pursue theater beyond high school and spent this past summer performing more. 

“I was really excited to spend my summer doing acting classes but the experience wasn’t what I expected,” said Mangrulkar. “I would go to a class and see all these white, pretty girls with perfect bodies. It wasn’t easy being the only Indian, queer, and non-binary person. Theater was something I felt was so special to me, and then I went to these classes and I didn’t feel special at all. Being in a room with other gorgeous singers lowered my self-esteem and I forgot my love for theater for a little bit.”

Despite Mangrulkar’s tough summer, when they returned to campus in September and started to rehearse Little Shop of Horrors, where they were reminded of their love for theater by being around friends and a supportive community.

“I’m so grateful for Little Shop of Horrors,” said Mangrulkar. “Little Shop of Horrors breathed the passion of theater back into me.”

Mangrulkar has worked incredibly hard to improve their performance, singing, and dancing skills throughout the years.

“They have the most expressive, bright eyes,” said Mangrulkar’s father, Raj Mangrulkar. “They capture your attention and you can see every emotion expressed on their face.”

Choir director and musical director Benjamin Cohen has been working with Mangrulkar ever since their first musical at Greenhills, and has worked with them in a smaller workspace in upper school choir as well. 

“I am so appreciative of Dash’s incredible spirit and artistry,” Cohen said. “They have an incredible voice and they are a wonderful performer. 

Mangrulkar is one of the many talented cast members of Little Shop of Horrors, which will be performing in the Campbell Center of Performing Arts on Dec. 7-9.

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