Whittell presents Little Shop of Horrors
Something strange and unusual is sprouting up at Whittell High School.
It’s a giant plant named Audrey 2 and a cast of enthusiastic young thespians is ready to tell you all about it.
Under the direction of drama teacher Lucia Mason, Whittell students are rehearsing “Little Shop of Horrors,” scheduled to open May 3.
The dark comedic musical, which also was performed at Whittell in 1991, features catchy songs and dance numbers choreographed by senior Mandy Ralls, who took a break from acting to assume the role of assistant director/choreographer in this year’s show.
“It’s my senior year and before I go to college I wanted to try something new,” Ralls said. “I know I want to go into the entertainment business. I’m just not sure what part.”
Ralls said she is enjoying her directorial debut but would rather be in the spotlight.
“I think I’ll be jealous when the show starts,” said Ralls, who has been dancing for eight years. “I’m not going to be on stage. I know when the show starts and the lights come on I won’t be under them.”
Mason said she uses student choreographers as often as possible.
“Every year I get someone who can handle it and I just turn it over to them,” she said. “Probably half of what you see in this show is Mandy. She’s just great. This is the first year she chose not to be in the show and be a choreographer and director.”
Mason, who has been involved with theater since college, said she doesn’t mind doing the show in the school’s commons.
“I’m very used to this space,” Mason said. “In some ways it is more challenging but it is actually pretty flexible space. We can do a lot and I think the kids will do wonderfully. I really do. It’s the smallest show we’ve done but it is probably one of the most talented groups I have worked with.”
The lead roles in the play, Seymour Krelbourn and Audrey were double-casted. Kyle O’Malley and Chris Evans star as Seymour, alternating performances. Lindsay Sharp and Jen Corkill play Audrey. When one duo is on stage, the other controls the voice and movements of the monstrous plant.
“I’ve always liked doing plays and I like singing,” said Evans, a member of John Houghton’s Black and White Choir. “This is the first year I’ve had a lead. It’s the first year I went out for a lead role.”
Because of conflicting practice schedules, Mason restricted auditions to students who are not participating in spring sports. Evans was an exception.
“It’s cool, it’s double-casted because sometimes I can’t be here because I also play baseball,” Evans said. “She made a special exception for me.”
Little Shop of Horrors is Corkill’s first play. She said she was shocked to learn she was cast as the show’s leading lady.
“Actually, when I went to auditions I was scared to death,” said Corkill, a senior. “I’ve been singing since about eighth grade. I love singing and I thought it would be fun to try acting. The hardest part about the play is learning lines along with having homework.”
Traditionally, many characters in Little Shop of Horrors speak with accents. Some of Whittell’s cast members opted to follow suit.
“I speak in an accent. I’ve always loved accents,” said Ben Brockman-Hawe, who plays Mr. Mushnik, the owner of a Skid Row flower shop where much of the show takes place. “This is my first play. I wanted to do it because I love this show. We are all extremely well-serving to our parts. It also helped that we had the exact number of people we needed for parts try out. The best thing about our show is there is no weakest link. We’re all well-suited for our roles and ready to go.”
Cameron Bowman plays Orin, the show’s semi-sadistic dentist and Audrey’s abusive boyfriend.
“It’s fun to play Orin because he is like my exact opposite,” said Bowman, who also serves as the show’s announcer and plays a wino. “I’m moving to Los Angeles. I want to act. I want to direct. I’ve been in multiple bands. I want to do everything. This is my first play. I tried out because I love Orin’s part and I wanted to surpass what Steve Martin did (in the movie). I figured this was a good way to get into acting.”
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