High school horrors

Students get set for production of "Little Shop of Horrors"

On Nov. 20, the lights will dim in the Moffat County High School Auditorium. Hopefully, the house will be packed. The curtain will rise to reveal four doo-whop girls with their backs to the audience. They'll introduce Moffat County to a skid row town that's home to the Little Shop of Horrors.

But that's not until next weekend.

For now, the actors, actresses, musicians and technicians have one more week to clean up all the slips, hit all the right notes, dance the smoothest moves and basically bust out the best musical production they can.

The high school students started practice for "Little Shop of Horrors" nine weeks ago. Back then, they had a trophy to represent the infamous killer plant, with pencils and other random stuff stuck to it. The lead actor was afraid to touch girls.

There were some obstacles to overcome.

Parents, friends, and curious strangers can find out how well they've done next weekend when Moffat County High School will present four performances of "Little Shop of Horrors" on Nov. 20, 21, and 22 in the high school auditorium.

Tickets cost $5 for general admission, and high school students are admitted free with their student ID.

Thursday night's rehearsal began with an interpretive happy birthday dance in honor of senior Brandi Babin. The cast lined up on stage, sang loud and flailed their limbs dancing. These teens are anything but inhibited.

And then it was time for work. And how much work it all has been.

There's no behind-the-scenes crew for the show, so every member of the production was responsible for putting in 12 hours building the set, a floral shop in a skid row city slum, and a dentist office with vintage dental chair.

In that floral shop, Seymour, portrayed by sophomore Will Schneggas, purchases a plant from an outer space nursery during a total eclipse of the sun. At first, the floral shop prospers, thanks to the plant, which Seymour names Audrey II, in honor of his love, Audrey, who's trapped in an abusive relationship. But then the plant develops a taste for human flesh, and, well . . . to find out more, go see the play.

"In the past, we did more serious plays," junior Carissa Taylor, a doo-whop girl, said while watching her fellow players practice. "This comedy is more fun and silly."

The more serious play she referred to was last fall's production of "Les Miserables," a hard-hitting musical about the French revolution.

Sophomore Ashleigh McDonald, who plays the tiger-like and seductive Miss Luce, agreed with Taylor's assessment. McDonald performed in "Les Mis" last year and found the music hard to memorize and the plot difficult to understand.

She said this year's show will be easier to follow and children could even enjoy it.

But make sure the children aren't too young. The show has been slapped with a PG-13 rating and is not intended for elementary school-age students.

After all, the star of the show is a man-eating plant so big and bad that it takes two people to play the part.

First of all, the frame of the plant is made of PVC pipe, is hairy inside, has hard warts, and it takes five guys to move.

But just one strong individual will be in Audrey II on play night, moving that homicidal plant around on his own.

Audrey II's other half, sophomore Travis Decker, will be backstage, moaning out the plant's raspy, seductive lines.

"The hard part is coordinating the voice with the plant's mouth's movements," Decker said. "Yesterday, it looked like a Jackie Chan movie."

Developing this production of "Little Shop," the cast faced all the normal challenges of any theater production, such as learning lines and music. Schneggas is in almost every scene but he said he's learned his lines through "strenuous practice."

Schneggas and his fellow cast members have found the music for "Little Shop" to be especially difficult.

"We think the people that wrote it were druggies," Schneggas said. "There are too many sharps, and flats where there shouldn't be any. The music is like another language."

Sophomore Laurel Luke, who plays Seymour's love interest, Audrey, agreed that the music has been challenging.

"One of the big problems is timing. It's complicated playing with the band," she said, referring to the 10-member orchestra that plays the show's score.

Rehearsal starts at 6:30 p.m. and can run till 9:30 p.m. That just adds more pressure to the constant balancing act that is the life of an active high school student, budgeting time between sports, academics, clubs, the play, and, where's that place students sleep when they aren't at school? Oh yeah, home.

Many of the roles in "Little Shop" were double-cast, so at any time during rehearsal, cast members are slumped in chairs, figuring physics problems, while their counterparts perform on stage.

Oh, and the lead actor who was afraid of touching girls? That is admittedly Schneggas, but he's gotten over it now.

It turns out the plant isn't the only one that's grown during

the play.

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