Don’t feed the plants and DON’T miss Episcopal’s presentation of Little Shop of Horrors!
Soon the VPAC stage will be converted into a flower shop. This is not your typical flower shop. The shop hides a secret and the characters within are dealing with everything from fame and love to success and shame in a comical, musical theater setting. Theater Director Paige Gagliano says it took some time to decide on this year’s Upper School play and it was the students who ultimately cast the deciding vote. “We just need to laugh and dance,” one student said in an endorsement of this year’s quirky choice.
This will be the fourth time that Little Shop of Horrors hits the Episcopal stage. Gagliano feels the importance of tradition as she flips through an original copy of former theater director Danny Tiberghein’s 1998 script notes and revisions. Members of former productions even have children in the 2019 rendition. While Little Shop of Horrors is a show filled with tradition (the Tiberghein version began its run on April 2nd just as today’s version does) it is also a show of firsts.
“It’s not going to be the Little Shop you’ve seen,” says Gagliano.
First of all, there is dancing. Gagliano says while the original story doesn’t have a prominent dance component, the 2019 Episcopal version does. “With a dance teacher as talented as Christine Chrest and the tremendous talent among the Episcopal dancers, we had to incorporate dance and movement into the story,” says Gagliano. The audience will also be more involved in the performance than in the past. “There’s nothing between the audience and the actors,” says Choir Director Mary Kannenberg, who is directing the music along with Band Director David Gambino. Whereas the orchestra would normally be a buffer between the actors and the audience, the band members are backstage for Little Shop of Horrors. In addition, the actors address the audience and interact with them throughout the show in a way that draws the viewer in and makes them feel like a true participant in the performance.
The Little Shop of Horrors cast is a mix of new Episcopal actors and longtime student thespians. Gagliano is excited that the production has attracted new students and says it’s very special to watch these students interact with members of the class of 2019. These seniors have worked with Gagliano since their first musical theater experience in eighth grade. Now as they approach their final curtain call, some are looking forward to continuing their musical theater studies at the university level. The Little Shop of Horrors experience allows them to mentor their fellow actors in a fun and memorable way before they launch into the next phase of life.
Episcopal theater productions typically feature an impressive set that immerses audiences in the magic of the story, thanks to the talents and skills of Lighting Director and Set Designer Louis Gagliano. Think back to the Jungle Book Junior tree house and that giant snake. Little Shop of Horrors promises more of the same with an impressive version of the plant, Audrey II. The greenery will even come alive with a student puppeteer and student vocals.
Little Shop of Horrors will be open for business on the VPAC stage April 2, 3, 5 and 6 at 7 pm, with a preview night on April 1st. Whether you come for nostalgia, for a new take on a classic or to bid farewell to a group of senior stars, the show will certainly not disappoint.
Tickets are on sale now. Click the link here to reserve your seats.