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Little Shop of Horrors: ‘Embrace the crazy and just run with it’

Jake+Swinford%2C+Div.+753%2C+with+Audrey+II.
Jake Swinford, Div. 753, with Audrey II.

Jake Swinford, Div. 753, with Audrey II.

James Coyne

James Coyne

Jake Swinford, Div. 753, with Audrey II.

By Alexa Soto

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What does one bloodthirsty plant, a klutzy flower shop assistant, a sweet girl, and singing and dancing inspired by the 1960’s have in common? They can be seen in this year’s winter musical, “Little Shop of Horrors.”

The musical is set to run on Feb. 15 and 16 at 3:45 p.m. and Feb. 17 and 18 at 7 p.m.

Based on Roger Corman’s 1960 film, “The Little Shop of Horrors,” the musical is about a clumsy flower shop assistant, Seymour Krelborn, who finds a tiny plant that resembles a green, evil, Pac-Man with white fangs. He then names the plant Audrey II to honor the woman he loves. The odd plant brings Seymour fame, but to get out of Skid Row —the bad part of town— with his girl, he needs Audrey II to grow.

Seymour then comes to the realization that the plant thrives on fresh human blood, gaining the ability to talk and sing. But after every feeding, Audrey II grows more bloodthirsty and demanding. This warrants the audience to ask, “Can Seymour control this monstrous plant?”

Cast members have really stepped into their unique roles, according to Ashley O’Neill Div. 873, who plays Mrs. Luce in the upcoming production.

“It would be so easy to freeze up and not sell all of the crazy things we have to do, so working with people who really embrace that crazy and just run with it has been really liberating and fun,” O’Neill said.

Actors such as Charlie Bauer, Div. 763, enjoy playing someone entirely different from themselves — in his case a sadist.

“It’s interesting to be able to behave myself and treat others in a way I never would.” Bauer said.

The musical’s director, Ms. Hanson, credits the uniqueness of the show to its genre of dark comedy.

“It is a parody of a B Horror Film,” Hanson said. “Most 20th century musicals have a positive ending for the main character. The musical also employs a plant, which is performed vocally by one actor but physically by a puppeteer.”    

The musical will feature Jake Swinford and Abdu Hytrek as the male lead, Seymour, and Avery Moss and Samantha Tennant as Audrey, Seymour’s love interest. For these students, working with the plant was a new experience.

“I have never done puppetry before; it’s a fun new challenge,” said Swinford, Div. 753. “I have to run around with it and dance with it in my hand. It’s a blast!”

However, puppetry isn’t the only challenging aspect of the musical. The combination of both singing and acting is time consuming, as it must be done effectively to move the plot forward.

“Keeping all the elements of believable and truthful acting while doing this fanciful singing and dancing really requires a lot of balance, skill, and dedication to the role and the show,” O’Neill said.

As for dancing, the audience will get to see choreography inspired by the 1960s, similar to The Supremes’ style, a popular female group who sang pop, rock, and soul music.

“The common thread is that the choreography is all quite cheesy and often exaggerated to fit the style of the show as a whole,” Ms. Laroche, the musical’s choreographer, said.

However, not all the action happens on stage. What goes on behind the curtains plays a key role in the production of the musical.

Mr. Davey, an Astronomy and AP Environmental Science teacher, works with a group from Stage Krew on the plant every day for a couple of hours after school. Some used tools to help make the “skeleton” of the plant, while others contributed by decorating the plant and putting together its layers with needlework.

As the musical progresses, Audrey II gets bigger. To account for this, Stage Krew has four Audrey II’s, two of which are from Lane’s first production of Little Shop of Horrors in 2001. The additional two are very large and able to fit an actor inside.

“I actually built the plant before when I was 18,” Mr. Davey said. “I had a stage manager gig, and I basically manipulated the drawings we had from back then into something that was a little bit more feasible for our stage.”

Once you achieve the look of a scary, flesh-eating plant, you need the sound.

Jeffrey Taraszkiewicz and Ian Smith had to create the perfect Audrey II voice. It was a challenge and a change for Taraszkiewicz, whose voice the audience will hear throughout the auditorium, coming from backstage.

“It’s really interesting because I’m used to playing klutzy kinds of roles, but instead now I have to play this a lot deeper, more rock and roll voice,” Taraszkiewicz, Div. 875, said.

While Taraszkiewicz will voice the plant, Victoria Otrubina, the stage manager, will go inside to control the largest Audrey II’s mouth to essentially “eat” people.

“I have to physically get up to open it since it’s about 6-feet tall. The crew built space for me inside of it, so it’s easier to lift it,” said Otrubina, Div. 790. “The frequency of lifting makes it a bit tough. I’ll be super ripped, though. It’s a great workout.”

Whether it be an actor or someone behind the scenes, everyone involved in the production has put in a lot of hard work and admire each other for it.

“The entire cast is such a great group of people and have been working so hard the past three months, every day after school to put this production on,” Swinford said. “The production that we do put on — is going to be the best I think I have ever seen at Lane Tech.”

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Little Shop of Horrors: ‘Embrace the crazy and just run with it’