Freedom High School
A shambled flower shop in Skid Row sure isn’t the place you’d expect to find the end of the world, but in Woodgrove’s Little Shop of Horrors that’s exactly where you’ll find it.
Little Shop of Horrors was originally a black-comedy film made in 1960. In 1982 it premiered as a musical with music from Alan Menken and lyrics and a book from Howard Ashman. Little Shop of Horrors tells the story of a young man working in a nearly bankrupt flower shop, but that changes when he decides to start displaying a peculiar little plant in the shop's front window. It’s just a shame that this plant doesn’t just need water or light, it needs blood.
Playing the man with green thumbs and red hands was Luke Murtaugh as Seymour. From nervous and shy in the beginning of the show, to someone willing to kill in “Now (It’s Just the Gas)” and “Suppertime” Murtaugh showed terrific range that raised the stakes and grabbed the audience's attention. Audrey played by Emily Reeps shined in numbers like “Somewhere That’s Green” and “Suddenly Seymour” which let her show off her wonderfully powerful voice. You could feel her longing to be somewhere better. You could also see the clear chemistry between her and Seymour that made them a couple so cute you could just eat them up. Mila Matic showed Mr. Mushnik's manipulative nature in “Mushnik & Son” with hilarity. Later in a scene filled with tension Mushnik finds out that Seymour killed Orin. As Matic became more justified in her anger and even a little concerned, the audience didn’t know if they were supposed to root for Mushnik or Seymour. a strong contrast to Act One.
The Plant (Audrey II) was portrayed with the help of many people, including the puppeteer (Christian Blosser) and the tentacles, but the real star of the plant was Samantha Huffer in a gorgeous shimmering purple gown. Always alive and watchable, Huffer really made the plant feel like a living, looming creature. In songs like “Suppertime” and “Feed Me “her vocals were glorious. She sang a part meant for a man with control and a style that made every note bleed with confidence. Evil is a word often used for villains, but it really fits this abusive good-for-nothing dentist. Stephen McClanahan played this criminal with such wickedness the entire audience wanted Orin to die. And yet he played his villainy with such cartoonish fun, they were all sad to see McClanahan leave the stage.
The production wouldn’t be the same without its rundown settings, which the set team (led by Claire Eddy, Christian Blosser, and Hannah Hurt) portrayed with three walls that denoted each location with fun detailed visuals. The costume team (led by Claire Eddy, Mark Edmonson, Wyatt Kunkel, and Lauren Rapp) also boosted the show, with a distinct 60’s style full of puffy skirts. They were a pleasure to look at and grounded the show in its unique setting. The show ends with the world in peril attacked by plants, a fact made clear by the makeup crew (led by J. Bolden, Morgan Porter, and Mark Edmonson) who bloodied and bruised many of ensemble members really enforcing the message “Don’t Feed The Plants”. Particular attention was given to Orin, with an imprint of his gas mask on his face, and Mushnik, with teeth marks from Audrey II.
All in all, the real scare in Woodgrove High School’s Little Shop of Horrors was that it had to end. This wonderful show brought fun, style, and undeniable excitement to the stage.
Westfield High School
On the streets of Skid Row, the sudden disappearance of many residents begins after the discovery of a unique plant species. During these disappearances, a love story begins to grow as the quirky florist who discovers the species and the girl the plant is named after discovering the horrifying reality of the man-eating plant. Spores, vines, and twigs envelop Woodgrove High School’s auditorium as a hungry, vicious, bloodthirsty plant inhabits it as they bring cult-classic Little Shop of Horrors to life. It’s suppertime!
Anchoring its roots in the 1960s, Little Shop of Horrors began as a horror comedy film which became the basis for the Off-Broadway adaptation, written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. Opening originally in 1982, the piece was later transferred to Broadway in 2003, allowing it to sprout into popularity. Following its original run, the musical received its own film adaptation in 1986. Known for its mix of rock and roll and doo-wop tunes as well as the feats it has accomplished within the world of puppeteering, Little Shop of Horrors has become a staple in both the film and theatre world.
Originally written without an ensemble, Woodgrove’s rendition of Little Shop illuminated the stage with a colorful ensemble to fill the streets of Skid Row, including two sets of Doo-Wop girls and an ensemble of vines and spores that assisted in bringing Audrey II to life. Performing dances and harmonizing through well-known tunes of the show, the ensemble was a warm addition to the production.
Portraying the nutty and zany young florist, Luke Murtaugh brought an adorable and lovable depiction of Seymour. Inserting Seymour’s shy personality as he faced the obstacles Audrey II placed in his path, Murtaugh drew in audiences as he instilled vocal power in “Grow for Me” and “Sudden Changes.” Opposite Murtaugh, Emily Reeps took on the role of the spunky Audrey, utilizing a character voice within both her acting and her singing. Showing off her graceful belt in numbers such as “Suddenly Seymour,” Reeps portrayed Audrey in a high-spirited manner.
Samantha Huffer took on the role of the man-eating plant, Audrey II. Traditionally played by a bass male, Huffer effectively showed off her alto range through several riffs and runs. Unique to the production, Huffer was on stage as she voiced the plant, expressing the emotions of Audrey II with physical movements that seduced Seymour into unwittingly bringing her meals.
Props designers Elyssa Talkington, Kiera McMahon, Ellie Ramsey, and Felix Mullen constructed a large, purple plant puppet that resembled a flytrap for Audrey II. Stealing the attention for the scenes it was featured in, Audrey II’s final form in Act II displayed the hard work of the props team. Titled the “Little Pit of Horrors,” Woodgrove’s pit beautifully filled the musical numbers with a well put-together orchestra, showcasing their strengths as they took on the difficult score.
If a menacing, large, bloodthirsty, man-eating plant inhabits your local flower store, you should probably keep your distance from it! Woodgrove High School’s Little Shop of Horrors left audiences hungry for more of Audrey II’s horrifying presence, as well as for Seymour and Audrey’s delightful appeal.