March 20, 2012 by Cody Anderson
TJ’s Drama Department brought us to a place of love, songs, terror, and laughs in their rendition of Little Shop of Horrors.
A flower shop on Skid Row. A hopeless employee and his bizarre plant. An insane dentist. All this and more were brought to life on the stage in TJ’s presentation of Little Shop of Horrors.
We begin in a failing flower shop run by Mr. Mushnik (Jordan Antonio). The shop is located in the bad part of the town and cannot seem to get any business. Soon we are introduced to our hero, Seymour Krelborn (Keith Hussey), a bumbling shop worker with an interest in plants and his co-worker Audrey (Sarah Francis-Gardiner). While Seymour is trying to get her attention and keep the shop open, Audrey is just trying to survive life with her abusive and semi-sadistic boyfriend, Orin Scrivello, DDS (Marcos Descalzi).
The plot thickens when Seymour brings out the Audrey II (voiced by Ben Schweitzer) , a not-so-subtle reference to his crush on Audrey. The plant brings business to the floundering flower shop, but requires blood to grow. After some personal feedings, Seymour can take no more and has to find another source for the plant’s interesting diet. As an act of desperation on his behalf, Seymour lets Orin die in a laughing-gas incident. He then proceeds to feed the psycho-dentist to his hungry plant. To keep the plant alive, he feeds the plant more people he knows, and Seymour becomes an emotional train-wreck from the guilt. In a final act of desperation, after the plant kills and eats the love of his life, Audry, Seymour jumps head first into the plant with a machete to try and destroy it.
The students in this play were wonderfully cast, each one bringing life to the characters. The huge stand-outs were the two leads, Keith and Sarah, along with Ben. Each one brought their character to life in a different way. Keith created a wonderful connection to the audience with his expertly performed stumbles and freak-outs. Sarah blew the audience away with the way she belted out the notes in her solo songs. Finally, Ben just creates something enticing about the evil plant using a deep voice and delightful cackles.
There were some minor issues that the play had. The sound was one of the bigger problems. During many of the songs, one performer tended to be overpowered by another, causing people to miss some of the more interesting parts of the songs. The biggest time this was noticeable was during the dentist’s death scene, where his mic had to be put into the gas-mask for him to be heard. The problem this caused was a muffled echo that prevented the audience from really hearing Keith sing his part.
Overall, the play itself was wonderful, and it was a pleasure to watch. The cast and crew really put their hearts into the performance, and were able to bring a smile to everyone’s face.