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Deadly plant overtakes the “Little Shop of Horrors”

By Nhung Lam, Hawkeye Staff

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The MTHS drama department held their first play of the school year, with the performances of the musical “Little Shop of Horrors.” The musical premiered from January 16 to 19.

“Little Shop of Horrors” book and lyrics are by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken. The musical was originally premiered Off-Off-Broadway in 1982 before moving to the Orpheum Theatre Off-Broadway. The musical requires only a small cast and simple orchestrations, increasing its popularity with community theatres, schools, and amateur groups. In 1986 the musical was made into a film directed by Frank Oz.

“Little Shop of Horrors” is a horror comedy rock musical that follows hapless florist orphan shop worker who raises a mysterious plant that feeds on human blood and flesh. The musical is based on the low-budget 1960s black American comedy film The Little Shop of Horror directed by Roger Corman.

Opening with Act I, the narrator recalls a time when humanity “suddenly encountered a deadly threat to its very existence.” Ronette (Rhiannon Aguilar), Crystal (Haley Morris), and Chiffon (Anabelle Sumera-Decoret) a trio of 1960s street orphans set the scene with the performance of “Little Shop of Horrors” and comment throughout the rest of the show.

Gravis Mushnick (Michael Wollan) and his two employees, a pretty blonde woman dressed tackily Audrey Fulquard (Peja Shymko) and orphan Seymour Krelboyne (Jacob Knight)  run his florist shop in an urban Skid Row. Iamenting, their situations in life they all perform “Skid Row (Downtown)”Down on business, Mushnick decides to close down his shop firing Seymour and Audrey.

Seymour in an attempt to keep their jobs and the shop, he tells Mushnick about a special plant he’s obtained from a wholesale flower district where a sudden eclipse caused the plant to appear in the performance of “Da-Doo”. Secretly in love with Audrey, Seymour names this mysterious plant Audrey II (Hannah Fisker-Anderson manipulation) although Audrey already has an abusive boyfriend Orin Scrivello (Seth Timple), a sadistic dentist.

The plant appears to be weak and dying. Seymour questions what the plant wanted since he did everything he could possibly do. During the performance of “Grow For Me” he accidentally pricks his finger on a rose thorn which causes Audrey II to open its mouth begging for the blood; realizing Audrey II require blood to live. Seymour allows Audrey II to eat a few drops of his blood.

With Audrey II  healthy and on display, the store, and Seymour’s popularity is soaring, bringing in revenue. With his popularity, he is suddenly regarded as a hero through the performance of “Ya Never Know” while Audrey expresses in “Somewhere That’s Green” that she secretly wants to leave her abusive boyfriend. Wanting to leave her life behind, she tells of her dream to have suburban life with Seymour.

In the performance of “Closed for Renovation” employee’s at Mushnik’s are renovating the flower shop because of the fame and fortune, Audrey II has been bringing in. Orin is then introduced through his performance of “Dentist”. Orin encourages Seymour to take the plant out of Skid Row because it would bring more wealth and fame to him.

Realizing that Mushnick´s shop is completely dependent on Seymour´s plant, he takes advantage of Seymour by offering him to become his son and a business partnership through the performance of “Mushnick and Son”. Although Seymour has always treated him poorly because he was an orphan, Seymour accepts being his son and partnership.

Soon, Seymour can’t provide Audrey II (now manipulated by Alberto Parades) with enough blood to keep it healthy. Then Audrey reveals it can speak when Seymour stops feeding the plant. Audrey II (Corey Blanchard as voice) taunts Seymour for blood and in return, Audrey II would make all of Seymour’s dreams come true.

Seymour continues to refuse to feed the plant until he witnesses Orin abusing Audrey. Being manipulated once again, the plant justifies killing Orin  because of this and causes Seymour to agree through the performance of “Feed Me (Git It)”

Seymour sets up a late-night appointment at the dentist office where Orin works intending to kill him. He pulls a gun out and points it at Orin but ultimately can’t kill him. Orin then examines his mouth and tells Seymour he needs a full oral examination starting with a wisdom teeth removal. Being a sadistic dentist Orin tells Seymour he won’t be needing novocaine or nitrous oxide but he will need it because it increases his own pleasure.

With a gas mask contraption, Orin intakes the nitrous oxide and decides to take it off but it gets stuck and can’t come off. Orin then overdoses as he asks Seymour for help in the performance of “Now (It’s Just The Gas)”. Seymour couldn’t bring himself to kill Orin but decides to let him die of asphyxiation. Concluding Act I of the musical, the performance of “Act I Finale” shows Seymour feeding Orin’s body to Audrey II.

Act II opens with the flower shop being much busier being backed up by an abundance of phone orders in the performance of “Call Back in the Morning”. In an attempt to impress Audrey, Seymour puts on a leather jacket but it causes Audrey to run out the shop in a cry. Audrey confesses to Seymour that she feels guilty about Orin’s disappearance because she secretly wished for it. The two admit their feelings for each other and Seymour promises that he will protect and care for her saying that they would start a new life together leaving Skid Row in the performance of “Suddenly, Seymour”.

Mushnik witnesses Audrey and Seymour embracing each other which confirmed his theory about Orin’s mysterious disappearance. Audrey then leaves, leaving Mushnik to confront Seymour about Orin’s mysterious disappearance. Musnik’s suspicion was confirmed with the bloody dentist’s uniform in the trash can right outside of his shop, little red dots of blood on the floor, Seymour and Audrey kissing, a baseball cap belonging to Seymour and a Mushnik and Son bag in Orin’s dentist office.

Seymour denies having any involvement in his disappearance. Mushnik prompts to Seymour that if he’s so innocent that he wants him to give a statement to the police proving his innocence.Audrey II tells Seymour he must get rid of Mushnik or he would lose everything and Audrey in the performance of “Suppertime”.

Right before Mushnik was about to drag Seymour down to the police station, Seymour asks Mushnik if he wants the days’ receipts to make a deposit the next day. Mushnik then asks if it’s in the safe but Seymour makes an excuse saying he forgot the password to the safe and put it in the plant for safe keeping.  

Mushnik then climbs inside of Audrey II searching for the money but realizes the deception too late and is devoured as he screams. With Mushnik out of the wat, Seymour runs the flower shop and with growing popularity, reporters, salesmen, lawyers and approach him offering opportunities of fame and fortune.

Overwhelmed by his success and fame, he realizes in a matter of time Audrey II will kill again and that he can’t live with the guilt. He contemplates destroying the plant but can’t because he thinks Audrey is only in love with him because of his fame and success in his performance of “The Meek Shall Inherit”.

Seymour is working on a speech for his lecture tour as Audrey continuously taunts him for more blood. Becoming hysterical he screams at the plant to shut up and threatens to kill it as Audrey walks in. Audrey calms Seymour down and he realizes Audrey would still love him even if Audrey II never existed.

Now sure the Audrey would still love him he decides Audrey II would bite the dust right after LIFE magazine snaps a picture. Confused and scared, Audrey question Seymour but goes home upon Seymour’s request. Unable to sleep at night because of Seymour’s strange behavior, she goes to the flower shop.

Audrey wanted to talk to Seymour but he wasn’t at the shop since he went down to the grocery shop to pick up some roast beef for Audrey II. As Audrey enters the shop she is shocked by Audrey II speaking. Audrey II begs Audrey to water him and sensing that it was alright she comes closer to Audrey II. As she was close enough, Audrey II wraps a vine around Audrey and pulls her into its maw in the performance of “Sominex/Suppertime II”.

Seymour gets back just in time to pull her out but she is mortally wounded. Seymour then confesses that he fed Orin and Mushnik to the plant and that’s how he got his fame. Audrey mortally wounded tells Seymour to feed her to the plant so she could be with Seymour forever after she dies. As she dies Seymour agrees in the reprise performance of “Somewhere That’s Green” and reluctantly places her into the plant.

The next day, from the World Botanical Enterprises, Patrick Martin (Seth Timple) tells Seymour that his companies wishing to take leaf cutting samples from Audrey to sell them across America. Seymour then realizes Audrey II’s devious plan all along was to conquer Earth. Realizing this, Seymour tries to kill Audrey II with a gun, rat poison, and in a final desperate act he jumps inside the plant and attempts to kill Audrey II from the inside with a knife. Seymour is then quickly devoured by Audrey II. Crystal, Ronette, Chiffon, Patrick come back into the store not finding Seymour decide to take the cuttings anyway.

Crystal, Ronette, and Chiffon then inform the audience that now other plants appeared across America tricking people into feeding them blood and flesh in exchange for fame and fortune. Audrey II has become bigger than ever, revealing new flowers with the faces of Seymour, Audrey, Mushnik, and Orin. Closing the act,  Seymour, Audrey, Mushnik, and Orin perform “Finale Ultimo: Don’t Feed the Plants” begging no matter how persuasive the plant is, don’t feed the plants.

The MTHS drama department has been hard at work ever since November 6th preparing for “Little Shop of Horrors.” Unlike many past productions MTHS has done, “Little Shop of Horrors” is a musical not just a play including puppets and live music.

“Many of our plays in [the] recent years have abstained from a city or modern setting. Little Shop of Horrors is different because of that and also its a mainstream and popular musical. Many of the plays and musicals we do are usually more obscure.”

One of the biggest parts of the musical is Audrey II. Audrey II requires quite a lot of manipulation and Junior Alberto controls the largest form of Audrey II from intermission until the end of the musical. “The big Audrey II plant is pretty hard to control because every night after bows, I pop out of the plant and there I am sweating like crazy.”

Unlike past plays, Little Shop of Horrors featured their own Band. Junior Lindee Cutler and Sophomore Natalie was on the piano/keyboards, senior Henry Smith-Hunt on the trombone, Senior Ben Leonard of the baritone sax/flute, senior Erica Lampers on the flute, Junior Owen Moreland  on the tenor sax/clarinets, Junior Josh Setala on the drums/percussion, junior Ernesto Torres on the trumpet/flugelhorn, and senior Andrew Vinther on the bass.

Cutler said, “Playing from the pit is a great experience, the band has a lot of fun down there.” Although it is fun and exciting Senior Lampers says, “most parts for the instruments are all solos, so you have to pay attention to  you are in the music cause if you get lost it is sometimes difficult to get back on track.”

Since the band plays in the pit that is beneath the stage and can’t see the performers live, timing is very important. Lampers says, “We know when to come in by the music director, Mr. Sullivan. He sits in front of the ensemble and is raised up higher which means he can both see the musical happening and the musicians.” Along with music director Mr. Sullivan, there are also cues in the score for the musical, a monitor and a few speakers in the pit.

The band rehearsed every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon for a few months leading up to the show and began rehearsing every day after school until about 5 pm between January 7th till the opening night January 16th

Culter expresses, “It would be cool if the school musicals continued to have live music. Even though it [wouldn’t] sound perfect like a recording, I think it adds an extra energy that can emotionally affect the audience on a deeper level…especially because it allows more interaction between the actors, music, and musicians.” Lampers also agree with Cutler but also said, “…the musicals at the school bring out the best in performing arts and the students in them are extremely talented.”

Being a musical, Little Shop of Horrors meant more lyrics, lines, and choreography to memorize. Senior Jacob Knight who plays Seymour says, “I heard from Haley Morris over the summer that we were likely to do Little Shop of Horrors this year so I started listening to a few songs that they had on Spotify”. Knight didn’t start memorizing the songs or lines until about two months before the show. Like Knight, Junior Peja Shymko plays Audrey says, “Memorization is really just a matter of drilling. I just make sure to make time outside of rehearsal to work on everything.”

Shymko says, “I love everyone in our cast. It’s been amazing to work with them. It’s been one of my favorite shows just because they were all so talented and committed to making this the best show it could be.”

Senior Seth Timpe plays a multitude of characters such as Orin, Bernstein. Mrs. Luce, Skip Snip, and Patrick Martin. With so many characters, Timple says for, “Each of these characters I’ve had to develop and think of some headcanon” For example, when Timple was playing Orin, he played him like as if Elvis had a kink for pain and a manipulative personality since his first number “Dentist” was a song designed to be an Elvis spoof. For his other characters, they were all very similar in the matter that they all want something from Seymour; the only difference was the different outfits.

Timple states that “every drama, play, musical that the drama department puts out is a quality production. This one is definitely no exception and one of our best performances for sure.”

Senior Sophie Stelmack who played customer and was the swing understudy says her favorite thing about drama is how accepting, nice and amazing everyone is in drama. On Thursday night, Stelmack was filling in for Sumera-Decoret who was playing Chiffon. “I thought I wasn’t ready but everyone there comforted me and helped me through what I was scared about…Haley Morris even took time out of her own day before a show and went through every single thing I was worried about and made sure I was ready for it.”

Knight states in a message to everyone, “if you have an interest in joining theater, don’t be afraid. The theater junkies are very supportive and joining a production can be very rewarding.”

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About the Writer
Nhung Lam, Hawkeye Staff

Nhung Lam, a junior and third-year staff at the Hawkeye started her Journalism career at Brier Terrace Middle School’s The Bulldog Brief. In Hawkeye, she enjoys covering sports in photography and writing about things that interest her, such as sports, local events and problems in the community. As a MTHS student, Nhung participates in the school's Concert Orchestra playing the violin, Honors STEM Program specifically the Biotechnology pathway, tutoring, IATRIX, swim team and tennis team.

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Deadly plant overtakes the “Little Shop of Horrors”