Featuring a scary-looking plant and a talented cast and crew of 25, Stone Middle School presents "Little Shop of Horrors." Showtimes are Thursday, Dec. 13, at 3:15 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 14, at 7:30 p.m.; and Saturday, Dec. 15, at 3 p.m. Tickets for Thursday must be pre-purchased; $5 tickets for Friday and Saturday are available during lunchtime and at the door.
Theater Director Lois Walsh is helming the production, with help from Assistant Director Emily Altadonna; stage managers and tech-crew heads Dieter Stach, Paige Ercolano and Abby Roney; plant operators Jennifer Byrne, John Nicholas Walsh and Zack Walsh; and Westfield High tech students.
"THIS SHOW is particularly challenging, spacewise," said Lois Walsh. "But talent and hard work trump the challenge, and these kids rise to it. The play has a little bit of on old sci-fi, B-movie feel, plus the good, old-fashioned, boy-meets-girl story — and music spills out in the middle of a scene."
She said the show also contains lots of good vs. evil. "It takes place in a shabby, floral shop on skid row," explained Walsh. "In an attempt to get more customers, an employee brings in a strange, interesting plant he got from an obscure, Chinese man. But it starts to take over, little by little. It's a murderous creature and eats people, but the characters don't recognize it until it's almost too late."
Eighth-grader Daniel Perkes plays the employee who brings in the plant. "He's a little nerdy, wears glasses and suspenders and is very innocent," said Daniel. "He's an orphan who lives on skid row and he's secretly in love with his co-worker Audrey whose boyfriend is a sadistic dentist."
Daniel likes his role because he loves singing and being on stage. He favorite number is "Closed for Renovation" because "it has cool harmony in it and it's an upbeat, kind of cheesy song" performed by Seymour, Audrey and the shop owner, Mr. Mushnik. He said the hardest part is interacting with the plant, but he likes being a main character and delivering funny lines.
Classmate Hannah Ehreth portrays Audrey. "She has no self worth or self esteem and is pretty ditzy," said Hannah. "She secretly likes Seymour and thinks she's a horrible person, but she never did anything bad."
Hannah said she's nothing like her character, in real life, so "it's fun to be somebody else." The toughest part, she said, is "trying to act really dumb and like I have no clue what's going on, at all. But Audrey's a sweetheart and it's nice to play a character like that and not an evil one."
Her favorite number is "Suddenly Seymour" during which Audrey and Seymour finally figure out that they love each other. Said Hannah: "It's supposed to be romantic, but it turns out really funny because they do such stupid things during the song." And she said the audience will like the play because "it's funny, sad and romantic. Anybody can come and see it and have a really good time."
Orin the dentist is played by eighth-grader Nick Burroughs, who describes his character as a jerk. "He's mean and abusive to Audrey and just not a good guy, all around," said Nick. But it's fun for Nick because, "in other shows, I haven't been the antagonist."
HIS BIGGEST challenge is "being mean to everybody here because they're all my friends." But he especially likes the songs he gets to sing because they're all so fast. Not surprisingly, Nick's favorite number is "Dentist," which he performs.
"It tells why Orin became a dentist and it has a lot of moving around with three girls," he said. Nick says the audience will love the show because "no scenes are alike and it'll be a lot of fun to watch. There's lots of talent up there and everybody works together really well. And the props and scene design are great."
The actors use the stage for the florist shop, and in front of it is the street outside the shop, plus the dentist's office. "So we make good use of the space we have," said Nick. "And during some of the numbers, we'll go into the audience."
Seventh-grader Jenny Cox portrays Ronnette, a street urchin. "There are three of us, all sisters, and we know everything," she said. "So we sing the story of the show like the Greek chorus in the movie, 'Hercules.'
She's the youngest of the trio, so the others protect her, but Ronnette tries to act tough. "I like it a lot," said Jenny. "There are only three seventh-graders in the show, and I have a rather large part, so that's cool."
Hardest for her is having to sing with a deeper voice than she actually has. But, said Jenny, "I like being kind of like a 'homegirl.' And we're really outgoing and speak our minds."
Her favorite song is "You Never Know" because it's happy and she has two solos in it. "Then all three girls sing the ending together," she said. "And the dance is pretty cool, too. The whole show has a variety of music that'll keep the audience interested."
Brittany Smith, 13, is another urchin. "I'm the tough girl, the leader of the pack, but also motherly," she said. "It's really fun because I take care of everyone in real life and the girls I'm playing it with are amazing. They're so energetic, and we're just like a real family."
Her favorite number is the finale, "Don't Feed the Plants," because "it kind of wraps the whole play in perspective and it's catchy." Brittany said the audience will also enjoy all the actors' energy and happiness.
THE THIRD urchin is eighth-grader Ashley Hamilton. "She's a poor, school-dropout, is living on the streets and has been through a lot. But when she and the other urchins sing, you realize they know more than anybody else about the plant's [capabilities]." While it can be tricky showing emotions ranging from confident to tough, Ashley's having a good time: "It's fun working with Brittany and Jenny; we've all gotten close."
"Little Shop of Horrors" is her favorite tune because "we're warning everybody about the plant. It took lots of work because of all the choreography; but once we got it down, it felt so good knowing all this practice paid off." She said the audience will enjoy the show's rollercoaster of emotions and "the songs are so full of energy, you want to dance along."
Peter Bouveron, 14, plays Mushnik, the greedy shop owner. "He cares for Audrey like a daughter, but he's kind of a jerk," said Peter. "It's all about money to him. I like being mean on stage, but it's hard memorizing all the lines, so I'm glad I'm not the main character."
His favorite number is "Mushnik and Son," in which he asks Seymour to be his son so he won't go and work elsewhere. Said Peter: "It's pretty funny because Mushnik's being sneaky and he and Seymour tango."
Eighth-grader A.J. Holliday is the plant's voice. "It's fun; I eat people and talk to Seymour," he said. "I say, 'I need food, I need blood' and 'I can make your life better with money and girls.'" His favorite song is "Feed Me/Git It," which he and Seymour perform together.
"The operation of the plant is crucial to the show's success," said A.J. "So that, combined with the plant's voice, the music and lights, bring it to life. It's incredibly heavy to maneuver, so I'm proud of the plant operators, as well as Zack with his little plant."