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Dublin

‘Shop’ ‘til you drop

Dublin School: With a wealth of talent to choose from, Jenny Foreman makes the most of her stable of young actors in “Little Shop of Horrors”

  • Dublin School presents "Little Shop of Horrors" this weekend.
  • Dublin School presents "Little Shop of Horrors" this weekend.
  • Dublin School presents "Little Shop of Horrors" this weekend.
  • Dublin School presents "Little Shop of Horrors" this weekend.
  • Dublin School presents "Little Shop of Horrors" this weekend.
  • Dublin School presents "Little Shop of Horrors" this weekend.
  • Dublin School presents "Little Shop of Horrors" this weekend.

Poor beleaguered shopkeeper Seymour is just trying to do his job and impress his co-worker Audrey when he comes across a seemingly harmless plant to feature at his boss’ flowershop. Seemingly fortunately for Seymour, under his care the plant grows into a huge, undiscovered species, making Seymour an overnight sensation. But the plant, named Audrey II by Seymour, has more sinister motives — and a taste for human flesh.

It’s a bit of a macabre plot, but “Little Shop of Horrors,” a rock musical by composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman, is best known for its black humor and generally upbeat soundtrack, featuring 1960s rock and roll, doo-wop and early Motown. This weekend, the Dublin School will be presenting the musical during its annual winter theater production.

Jenny Foreman, the play’s director, said in an interview Monday she chose the play because she was looking for a more quirky and comic alternative to last year’s production of “Hair.” She also knew she had strong female voices coming to audition, and a cast that could support the production after losing a large number of seniors to graduation. However, Foreman was surprised by a large crop of freshman, as well as several upperclassmen who either joined a production for the first time, or after taking several years off from the stage. This year’s female performers were particularly strong, she said, and the competition for the leading lady — Audrey — was particularly fierce. Foreman also was torn when it came to the other lead, Seymour, between talented freshman Cam Harrington of Francestown and senior Adam Bloom of Dayton, Ohio.

Eventually, Foremen decided to make the most of the talent available, and split the role of Seymour between Bloom and Harrington, and the role of Audrey between junior Daria Gross, 17, of Millwood, N.Y., and senior Anna Rozier, 18, of Westport, Conn.

“Having too many talented kids is always a great problem,” she said. “They all really rose to give great auditions.”

Foreman also made the decision to reverse cast the role of Mr. Mushnik, casting junior Talia Cohen of Bronx, N.Y., to take advantage of the surfeit of female voices.

“Little Shop of Horrors” has a lot of intricate set design, noted Foreman, with the killer plant Audrey II, represented by a larger-than-human sized puppet being at the center of a lot of logistical maneuvering. The puppet is operated by senior Julia Marcou of Jakarta, Indonesia, who has a passion for making the puppet into a character in its own right, said Foreman.

“She’s very enthusiastic about working the puppet and incorporating a lot of nuances into the performance,” she said. “If it was someone doing it just because they had to, it wouldn’t be as good.”

Acting with the puppet isn’t always easy, noted some of the cast during a dress rehearsal of the show on Sunday. “The weirdest part for me is the giant puppet,” noted Bloom. “Cam and I, who play Seymour, there’s a lot of time when we’re on stage, just us and the puppet. There’s someone in there, but it’s hard to interact with a giant fabric plant and pretend its a person.”

Rosier, who plays Audrey, agreed. “For the first time, our bodies really become props,” she said, referring to the moments in the show when the giant Audrey II consumes its victims.

Foreman noted that working around the logistics of the giant puppet — which at points — was one of the most challenging aspects of the show. It’s been a process, she said, to work through how the students were going to portray certain aspects, and mask what was happening at other times.

“It’s pretty neat to see how make do with an on-stage production in a low-tech situation,” she said. “With film you can do so much with camera angles and editing. You can’t do that on stage.”

Though the show has been presented in both off and on Broadway productions and is a popular community theater staple, it’s perhaps best known in its film incarnation, the 1986 movie starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, and Steve Martin. It was a hard act to follow in some ways for many of the students, who were fans of the movie.

“I came into it trying to act like Rick Moranis,” said Bloom. “Which doesn’t work. You have to change things and make it your own. That’s been really fun to do, making it our own show.”

Gross, who will be sharing the role of Audrey, said she was also a big fan of the movie, and particularly the performance of Audrey by Ellen Green. “She’s my favorite Audrey. She doesn’t just play the part, doesn’t just sing well. She is Audrey. The thing that’s special about acting is, it’s not just the words or the person playing the role, it’s about being yourself in made-up circumstances. You can’t be the same Audrey as someone else. I really like being myself as Audrey. I think it works.”

Gross’ fellow Audrey, Rozier, noted that unlike some of her castmates, she was not a fan of the movie, but has enjoyed taking on the role and making it unique. “When you start rehearsals, every little decision helps to make the role your own,” she said.

Shows are tonight at 7 p.m., Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. For more information regarding the show or to reserve tickets, please call 563­-1285. Tickets are free of charge but donations are welcome.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.

Great! I hope to see it this weekend with the family.

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