Theater Review: “Little Shop of Horrors”

Horror infused with humor delights at Southold High School, as a talented troupe wows audiences in “Little Shop of Horrors,” Howard Ashman’s dark comedy about a blood-thirsty plant with attitude.

Howard Ashman’s “Little Shop of Horrors” could easily be conceived of as a dark, frightening piece, spotlighting Seymour, an orphan working at the Mushnik’s Skid Row Florists, who happens upon a voracious plant that magically keeps growing and could be the Seymour’s ticket to easy street – for a chilling price.

But the brings Menken’s hit play to glorious life, infusing the adaptation with light, color and infectious song, as well as laugh out loud humor, bringing their own brand of talent and enthusiasm to one of the most popular Off Broadway hits of all time. Members of the Southold Drama Club have been honored repeatedly at the local Teeny Awards – a student theater arts program created to celebrate young artists and nurture dreams – and “Little Shop of Horrors” proves why, showcasing some of the best young talent on the East End.

The Play:

"Little Shop of Horrors," a musical that opened Off Broadway in 1982, was based on the 1960 film “The Little Shop of Horrors,” directed by Roger Corman, with screenplay by Charles Griffith. With book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken, the show ran for five years, and when it closed in 1987, had the distinction of being the highest grossing production in Off Broadway history. Later, “Little Shop of Horrors” was reincarnated as a Broadway revival, as well as a big screen adaptation starring Steve Martin, and in scores of community and school productions.

The Troupe:

Directed by Casey Rooney and Jessica Ellwood; musical direction by Kelli J. Baumann; choreography by Kerri Friend.

Narrator:                      Breton Worthington

Crystal:                        Amanda Akran

Chiffon:                      Marisa Fedele

Ronnette:                    Sydney Campbell

Chiffalettes:                Sara Abrams

                                    Katie Connolly

                                    Winter Wilcenski

Mushnik:                     Shelby Pickerell

Audrey :                       Ivy Croteau

Seymour:                     Sam Kortchmar

Winos:             Samantha Koslosky

                                    Rebecca Rogers

Customer #1:               Brittany Calderale

Interviewer:                 Breton Worthington

Orin Scrivello:             Griffin Quist

Audrey II:                   Jack Davidson

Customer #2:               Kyle Sparacino

Mrs. Bernstein:            Elizabeth Anderson

Mrs. Luce:                   Emma Sisson

Skip Snip                     Benjamin Glew

Patrick Martin             Breton Worthington

“Dentist” Ensemble:   Rachel Burns, Gayle Gammon, Natalie  Hocker, Megan Moran, Sophie Pickerell, Gretchen Walker.

“Closed for Renovations” Ensemble: Kimberly Connolly, Samantha Koslosky, Kathryn Krukowski, Lara Mahaffy, Kesley Mehrman, Rebecca Rogers, Jessica Saporita, Morgan Walter.

“The Meek Shall Inherit” Ensemble: Mary Bertschi, Jasmine Clasing, Jack Dunne, Amy Kandora, Alexa Palumbo, Logan Pfister, Sophie Pickerell, Laura Rempel, Katie Saporita, Cora Small, Colette Steele, William Tondo, Chryso Tsoumpelis.

The Plot:

The play tells the cautionary tale of Seymour, besotted by the beautiful Audrey, who has been abused by her thug dentist boyfriend. Seymour happens upon a rare plant, which he names Audrey II – and soon, the wise-cracking green foliage begins roaring for food. As the plot unfolds, Seymour finds himself trapped between his hunger for a better life – a “quiet life” he can share with the woman he adores – and his escalating horror at the evil he has unleashed by sheer force of ambition.

The Interpretation:

The Southold Drama Club presents perhaps one of the finest adaptations of an Off Broadway smash ever seen on the East End. Fine performances abound, and audiences are left laughing, singing, and cheering for a cast that comes alive with exhilarating choreography by Kerri Friend and heart-achingly tender musical moments conceived by Kelli J. Baumann. Directors Jessica Ellwood – a star in her own right on the local community theater canvas – and Casey Rooney adapt the production to include an expansive ensemble that adds infectious energy to their spot-on adaptation.

The Set:

Casey Rooney’s sets burst with color and life. Whether a flower shop splashed with magnificent hues or Skid Row streets adorned by hungry urchins begging for a dollar and a new life, the sets are simply inspired, with an extraordinary attention to the details that make a stage come alive.

The Costumes:

Costumes, designed by Else Quist, Bridget Walter, and Daisy Clasing, depict an America during the days when “I Love Lucy” and TV dinners symbolized glimmering hope for those hungry to taste the American dream. The costumes not only depict the hats, gloves, and bow ties of a more reserved time – with decadent red gowns adorning the Chiffalettes reminiscent of elegant night clubs – but the show’s finale, characterized by glowing and almost sinister neon greens, symbolizes the ever sprouting, ever growing, and far-reaching and grasping vines sprung from seeds of horror planted by Audrey II, the plant with the power to change life on Main Street, USA forever.

The High Points:

Although each cast member is talented and the show a winner, not enough can be said about Ivy Croteau’s performance as Audrey. Croteau, a senior in her last show at Southold High School, is a familiar face to local theatergoers who have enjoyed her in a steady stream of stand-out performances. Croteau, who has been honored  at the Teenys in years past, gives her heart and all her acting chops to the character of Audrey in this production, singing the show’s signature song “Somewhere That’s Green” with a wistful, aching yearning. Croteau’s fragile character, who could easily have been bitter or broken by the abuse she’s suffered, hums with promise – the hope that one day, the Donna Reed existence, complete with plastic-wrapped furniture and TV on a giant “12 inch screen” with a man to love all her own, will one day be within her grasp. Croteau brings heart and sincerity to the role, and her voice – that voice! – raises the bar in this production.

Also of note are Sam Kortchmar as an earnest and fumbling Seymour who breaks out of the geek zone and goes for the gold in his rockin’ metamorphasis  during “Feed Me (Git It).” His performance deserves kudos for its ability to shed light on the reasons why a good guy takes a tiptoe on the dark side – all for the love of a girl. And when Seymour is wracked by guilt and fear and abject loathing for the monster plant that has monopolized his life, Kortchmar’s performance marks him a force to be reckoned with, on any stage.

Shelby Pickerell, as a money-hungry woman intent on success, is a gem, and ensemble performances are beautifully choreographed, with each actor staying in complete character even while not in the spotlight.

The show is a must-see for anyone interested in the finest in high school theater on a local stage.

Q & A

Co-director Jessica Ellwood said the show was chosen because the movie is so popular.

"It's fun, it's got great music -- and it's a love story."

The message, Ellwood said, "is about giving into greed, and how that can lead you down the wrong path."

Bringing a rock musical to Southold seemed like the right choice at the right time, she added.

"It was just a great fit for Southold," she said.

Catch the final performances of "Little  Shop of Horrors" at thedistrict auditorium today at 2 PM. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students and can be purchased at the door or at the


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