Little Shop of Horrors

May 20, 2015 at 8:37 AM

Middle School Production

When your flower shop business looks like it’s going down the gurgler and you’re not sure what to do, encouraging a large, ill-tempered, foul-mouthed, R&B-singing, man-eating plant to grow in your shop window, particularly one bent on world domination, may provide a novel short term solution - but it’s probably not the best way to fix your problem long term! Especially when it devours you in the process!

Little Shop of Horrors is one of the longest-running Off-Broadway shows of all time. This affectionate spoof of 1950s sci-fi horror movies has become a popular choice for theatre groups, thanks to the highly successful Hollywood film. In a novel twist, this year’s Saint Kentigern Middle School production featured twin brother and sister, Molly and Harrison Griffiths, playing opposite each other in the lead roles!

On New York’s Skid Row, irascible flower shop proprietor, Mr Mushnik (Matthew Farnell), and his two employees, Seymour (Harrison Griffiths) and Audrey (Molly Griffiths), scratch a pitiful living from a failing business. Insecure but well-meaning orphan, Seymour, harbours a hopeless passion for his co-worker, sweet but ‘ditzy’ Audrey, but is far too meek mannered to let it be known – until his discovery of a strange, exotic plant  injects new life into the business and brings Seymour a taste of success.

As Seymour’s fame as a celebrity horticulturalist grows, people flock to the store but he is faced with a growing moral dilemma – how far is he willing to go? He hopes to win Audrey away from her abusive boyfriend, sadistic dentist Orin (Rafe McDonald) but there is just a wee problem with this plan; the plant that Seymour has named Audrey II, after the girl he longs for, has grown to a giant carnivore that feeds on human flesh – which the plant demands in ever increasing quantities in increasingly threatening tones!

As the cry, ‘Feed me Seymour!’ becomes more frequent and disturbing, we discover that quiet Seymour is actually capable of terrible things and while he doesn’t actually commit murder, he does sell his soul - as first Orin the dentist, then Mr Mushnik become fuel for the plant’s insatiable appetite!

Year 10 brother and sister duo, Molly and Harrison, prove outstanding in their roles as Audrey and Seymour. Despite not having played lead acting roles on stage before, they rise to the performance and are to be applauded for taking on strong, credible American accents. Molly has truly mastered a New York stage accent. Both are strong singers but Harrison, in particular, is a powerhouse vocalist with a wide vocal range – we can expect to see these two in many more musicals to come!

The catchy score is a mixture of popular styles including rock 'n' roll, doo-wop and Motown - and the cast clearly loved singing every bit of it! Throughout the show, a trio of street-wise narrators, Crystal (Caroline Cross), Chiffon (Venice Qin) and Ronnette (Izzy Bayley) strut and sing, keeping the audience entertained with their view of life on ‘the Row.’ Other soloists gave equally strong performances from Matthew Farnell’s money-grubbing Mushnik, to the agents who come calling on Seymour, played by Matthew Turner, Beck Robson, Ben Staite, Nicholas Scott and Amelia Elliot. Clad in leather as the deranged dentist, Rafe MacDonald does a fantastic Elvis like delivery of his squeamish dentistry song! Beware the dentist with the rusty drill and a taste for nitrous oxide!

Backing the singers was a troupe of twelve lead dancers who did great justice to the choreography. On many occasions the wider chorus also joined in, clearly relishing their spot in the limelight.

It’s an unusual situation when one of the stars of the show remains unseen! The voice of the plant at the centre of all the attention was played by Sajith Dhambagolla, who delivers all his lines and sings his songs without ever setting foot on stage! Ben Staite and Jacob Borland-Lye took on the work of the puppeteers providing animation to the plant which they said wasn’t easy. Despite a couple of sandbags to assist opening and closing the huge venus fly trap-like plant; it was a real workout for the boys backstage!

As the show headed to its conclusion, Seymour realises he has unleashed a horror he can no longer contain. When his attempts to kill the plant fail, he and Audrey take the only way out they know, and one after the other, they too succumb to open jaws of Audrey II.

Despite the rather grisly ending, this was a show that left the audience on a high as the young cast all came forward for the curtain call singing ‘Don’t feed the plants!’ Message heard loud and clear!

We thank Producer, Mrs Kim Smith; Director, Mr David Sheehan; Musical Director, Mr Oliver Gilmour; Choreographer, Mr Ichiro Harada; Head of Backstage, Mr Terry Haffern; and Technical Manager, Mr Glen Mortensen, along with their wider team of staff for all their work in bringing this show to fruition. Working alongside the staff was a team of Senior School drama students in assistant roles to the Director and Choreographer with Year 12 student, Sam Elliot taking on the role of Stage Manager.

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