There are few musicals as terrifying and terrifyingly funny as “Little Shop of Horrors,” a 1982 off-Broadway musical and 1986 film starring Rick Moranis and Steve Martin. The story follows a Skid Row florist who captures national attention after breeding a plant that thirsts for human blood. Add a dash of romance, an evil dentist, and a memorable score by Disney legend Alan Menken, and you have an instant cult classic.
Nazareth Area High School students embraced the absurdity of Little Shop during their spring production, which ran from April 21 to April 24. Even as the alien-like plant on stage devoured cast member after cast member, the audience couldn’t hide their laughter. It’s why director Sandy Jameson chose Little Shop as the school’s 2022 production.
“After two years of a quiet auditorium,” she said in her director’s letter, “we needed pure entertainment: something with the catchiest music, that would make us laugh, that would remind us all exactly how much fun we can have making and watching musical theatre.”
Senior Henry Grimm captured the shy, awkward nature of leading man Seymour from the moment he steps on stage, hiding behind his glasses. Seymour, a flower store clerk, discovers a mysterious venus fly trap, which he uses to impress his grumpy boss, Mr. Mushnik, played by sophomore Aaron Louw, and coworker (and love interest) Audrey, played by senior Paige Horvath. He even names the plant Audrey II in her honor. While the plant draws crowds to the flower shop, little do its admiring fans know, Audrey II needs human blood to stay alive.
The highlight of the first act is the moment the plant speaks for the first time: “Feed me,” it says. Junior Jacob Kremer voiced Audrey II. Unlike many other productions of Little Shop, Kremer was visible to the audience throughout the performance. Bathed in bright green light and costumed in a green velvet suit, his animated performance made Audrey II much more than a talking prop on stage but a fully-fledged character.
The musical numbers in the production are catchy, doo-wop-inspired tunes. The musical opens with “Little Shop of Horrors,” performed by the trio Crystal, Ronette, and Chiffon (Julia Borawski, Julia Chormanski, and Kailey Force, respectively). The three narrate the production, guiding the story along. Horvath and Grimm had the audience cheering with their rendition of “Suddenly Seymour.” Meanwhile, junior Daniel Miller, who plays bad-boy-dentist Orin, probably scared quite a few young audience members away from the dentist with his performance.
Every cast and crew member helped bring the story to life and bring a smile to the audience.
“I wouldn’t trade our cast, crew, orchestra for any other,” Jameson added in her letter. “Their spirit is inspiring, and they make me laugh every day.”
It was amazing to watch the set transform and to watch Audrey II double, then triple, in size, towering over cast members. By the end, the entire auditorium was wrapped in green vines as the killer plant rapidly took over the world.
As for the lesson audiences can take away from the production, Jameson admits there isn’t one, except perhaps, “Don’t feed the plants.”