“Little Shop” Rocks Westwood

Nicole Fiorica , Editor-in-Chief

Westwood’s Woodington Players put on their spring musical, “Little Shop of Horrors” this past weekend, to much positive feedback. The show, which ran from the 14 to 16 of March, was the result of many months of hard work.

Directed by Donna Bialkin, the show starred sophomore Dan Robertson as Seymour, a poor young man working at a failing florist’s shop located in dingy, downtown Skid Row. In order to convince his boss, Mr. Mushnik (sophomore Aniz Gaweda) not to close the shop, Seymour finds an exotic plant to attract the attention of customers. The catch is that the plant survives on human blood, and as it grows, it requires increasing amounts of it to stay alive. Seymour is faced with a moral dilemma as he considers whether his newfound fame is worth the lives that he must feed to the plant.

Additional stand-out performances included those from senior Nicole Kalish as Seymour’s co-worker and crush, Audrey, and senior Paul Pesenti as Audrey’s sadistic dentist boyfriend Orin Scrivello. The six Do-Wop girls (Delaney DeTitta, Adra Mayer, Ashley Driscoll, Rainie Derwin, Jackie Romeo, and Melissa Risetto) that danced their way into almost every scene kept the mood of the show fun and light.

One of the most notable features of the production, however, was the plant itself. Voiced by junior Keith Haas and controlled by senior puppeteer Emily Denny, the constantly growing and talking plant was the source of a lot of excitement and curiosity.

Denny explained that she controlled the small version of the plant by hiding behind the table that the plant rested on. The table had a hole that allowed her to reach through and control the plant like a sock puppet. Later, when Seymour picked up the plant and walked around with it, he used a different prop altogether; Robertson manipulated a trick arm to hide the fact that his real hand was actually inside the pod of the plant.

Denny goes on to describe the magic behind the larger, talking plants, the first of which is the most complicated: “Basically the pot is hollow and is equipped with a chair for me. I sit in the chair and put on these leg attachments that look like roots. I also have a sleeve to look like a tongue, which I wear. Next the crew lowers the pod on top of me. I go inside the upper jaw, which has a bar that I can hold. I hold the bar and maneuver the pod by moving my upper body around, mimicking [Haas’] dialogue. It’s a lot of hard work.”

The last plant is the one seen for the duration of Act II, which is the largest of them all, and required the assistance of a second puppeteer, senior Jenny Banes-Kievit. Denny says, “We stand side by side and lift the upper jaw up and down with a bar similar to the previous plant. It gets a bit tight when someone comes in, but it’s worth it for the onstage visual.”

Despite not being seen on stage until the bows at the end of the show, Denny says that her job was rewarding in a lot of other ways. “I’ve loved this role mostly because I love the reaction I get the first time the audience sees one of the plants move,” she said. “It’s always this big gasp of laughter. They’re so surprised to see it move and they’re so amazed.” On a personal note, she added, “I feel like I surprised a lot of people with my physical ability, and it made me feel good. I don’t often get noticed for things like that.”

Although the plants themselves were rented by the Woodington Players, the show’s crew contributed tremendously to the overall visual affect of the show. Not only did they build a simple but detailed set, but they also created a number colorful costumes and even a series of vines that were brought into the audience during the final scene of the show. Combine this with the live music provided from the pit band, and the audience was left wowed after each show.

In terms of performance, music, and visuals, “Little Shop of Horrors” showed off some of the best talent at Westwood. “It’s a bit sad moving on,” said Denny, who is graduating this year. “The Woodington Players have been such a big part of my life for so long and they’re pretty much my second family. But I’m so proud that this is my final show. It’s an amazing way to go out.”