ST. CLOUD -- A retired teacher is co-starring along side his former students in GREAT Theatre's latest production of Little Shop of Horrors.

Rick Cicharz taught theatre at Sartell and had fellow actors Otto Klemp, Mackenzie Krueger, Luis Maldonado, assistant choreographer Katie Bruender and director Nastacia Guimont as students during his tenure.

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Cicharz says it's inspiring to be working next to so many familiar faces.

Now that I've retired and have the opportunity to get back on stage the feelings are even greater. Seeing these guys again and remembering them when they were in middle school and here they are now adults, it's fantastic.

Maldonado was a junior in high school when he first got to know Cicharz. He says Cicharz truly believed in a students, which motivated them to bring out their very best on stage.

He was always pushing us. Pushing us to bring out that wow factor in the shows. He believed in all of us and I cherished every moment working with him.

Since graduating high school, both Klemp and Krueger have pursued a musical theatre degree in college.

Klemp says he was curious on how it would be working along side his former teacher.

I thought it was going to be so interesting as I have never worked along side of him before. But theater is such a collaborative process already in any context, so nothing really changed as I thought it would from a working standpoint.

Krueger says it's been fun to work along someone she's respected in the theatre industry and to get some feedback from.

It's fun to be a co-star with him and be able to create together and teach each other as we go.

Guimont, who is making her directing debut, says she was nervous instructing someone she considered a role model.

There was some nerves coming in, but he was a true professional. He told me he was here to learn and didn't want me to hold back because he was my former teacher

Cicharz says he's honored to be apart of Guimont's directing debut. He says he's been amazed at the poise and leadership she's brought to the production.

Coming in I've just been focused on the acting and getting her direction. She's been pushing me just like I did and it's been great.

Everyone agrees there is some added excitement to be apart of GREAT Theatre's return to the Paramount and can't wait to perform in front of a live audience again.

Little Shop of Horrors starts Friday at 7:30 p.m. and runs through September 19th. Tickets for the show are $30 for adults and $22 for students.

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