‘Little Shop of Horrors’ blooms at St. Thomas More

Dancing and singing in a scene from “Little Shop of Horrors” are, from left, Carolina Temerario, Emily Godfrey and Jessica Zhang. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

MAGNOLIA – “Little Shop of Horrors,” a tale of a blood-thirsty Venus flytrap, takes the stage this weekend at St. Thomas More Academy.

The musical production focuses on the struggling Mushnik’s Flower Shop, where a suspicious plant shows up and unlike the rest of the plants in the shop, struggles to survive on sunlight and water. It doesn’t perk up until the florist pricks his finger and the plant drinks a drop of blood. It begins to grow and attract customers, until the florist Seymour realizes the plant has a larger than expected appetite.

“It’s a welcome change,” said senior Jessica Zhang, playing the role of Ronette. “Our last show was ‘High School Musical’ which was fun, but a little cheesy, so I think we are all having fun with a darker storyline.”

Rachel Merson plays the voice of Audrey II – the flesh eating plant.

“It’s actually pretty challenging,” she said. “I started theater last year and for my other roles, I could be very expressive with my face, but as a voice actor, that element is completely removed.”

Bridget Cooper and Christian Randazzo clean up Mushnik’s Flower Shop.

But playing the role of the villain isn’t too difficult as Rachel has portrayed villains in the past like Ursula of “The Little Mermaid.”

“I really love evil characters, and everyone has always told me I have a great evil laugh, but the plant isn’t only evil, it has a dynamic personality so there’s still some range to have fun with,” she said.

Heading up the show is director Kevin Thomas, who is working with the STMA actors for the first time.

“This is a show I really love. It’s funny and dark at the same time and I played Seymour in a production of it in college, so it’s a show I’m very familiar with,” he said.

Although this is Mr. Thomas’ directorial debut, he brings some serious experience to the school, having served as the music director for more than 20 youth productions.

“I’ve worked with a lot of great directors over the years so it hasn’t been difficult making the transition, especially when it’s with a show you love,” he said. “It has a very Tim Burton-like feel to it and we’re playing it a little darker than it’s normally played and you can definitely see that, especially with the set.”

The set design was a fun challenge for art teacher Joanna Wicks. STMA doesn’t have a full auditorium like most schools, so there has to be creativity involved.

Christian Randazzo as Seymour tosses flowers while working in Mushnik’s Flower Shop. The show starts tonight at St. Thomas More Academy in Magnolia.

“We read through the script then brainstormed how to make it work because there are multiple scenes and there aren’t any curtains so the whole set is always on display. You have to bring it all together in a nice way without any one part of the set distracting too much from another,” she said.

The set design also created a backstage area where assistant director, junior Jessica Churchman is in charge.

“I have a lot of responsibilities not only leading up to the show with lines and blocking and set construction, but I’m the stage manager so everything that happens during the show, behind the scenes, I’m taking care of it,” she said.

Having been involved in theater since the fifth grade, Jessica said she has the experience it takes to handle everything that goes on behind the scenes.

“It’s been a lot of fun helping out in this way and I’ve been able to work with some of the actors during rehearsal which has been great because some are acting for the first time,” she said.

It’s mostly male actors coming into the show with little experience because STMA has a low male population so shows relying on male leads require some newcomers to step up.

“You could say I was recruited to be in the show,” said senior Vincent Dong playing evil dentist Orin Scrivello. “It’s a musical and I’m in chorus so that part was a relatively easy transition but the whole acting thing is new.”

Vincent said acting is particularly hard since his character is a real jerk.

Assistant director Jessica Churchman helps paint some of the scenery for the St. Thomas More Academy production of “Little Shop of Horrors”.

“He’s not like me at all, so it me really acting,” Vincent said. “But to get into character, I try to imagine myself as a villain in a super hero movie, someone like the Joker.”

He said he’s nervous about the acting part, but excited to be on stage.

“I think it’s extremely impressive how these kids have risen to the occasion,” Mr. Thomas said. “It’s really amazing to see the progress they’ve made over the past few weeks.

“Little Shop of Horrors” takes center stage at St. Thomas More Academy in Magnolia today at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 each.

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