This semester, sophomore Julia Gutterman triumphantly directed Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s rock musical, Little Shop of Horrors. The show ran from Friday, March 30th to Sunday, April 1 in Gannett Theatre. The show follows Seymour, played by Justin Demers ’18, a young man working at Mushnik’s Skid Row Florists. Mr. Mushnik, the owner of the flower shop, is played by Xavier Hayden ’19. Audrey, another employee of Mr. Mushnik’s, is played by Caroline Carreras ’19.
On the stoop outside Mr. Mushnik’s, Chiffon, Crystal, and Ronnette, played by Sarah Curtis ’18, Margaret Trombley ’18, and Becca Kraft ’20 respectively, sit and interact with passerby and the stores’ employees.
In an effort to attract business, Seymour purchases a strange looking Venus Fly Trap to display in the window of the flower shop. As a show of his affection for Audrey, Seymour names the plant Audrey II. As the show progresses, it becomes evident that Audrey II, played by Elliot Chun ’18, is animate as it asks Seymour to feed it human flesh.
Audrey II’s first casualty is Audrey’s sadistic and abusive girlfriend, dentist Orin Scrivello. In addition to her gender-bending performance as Scrivello, Maddie Rozells ’20 plays various other ensemble roles.
Presented by the Bates College Robinson Players, the show is a joy to watch and experience. The cast is energized and enthusiastic; they genuinely convey their excitement about Little Shop to the audience. The talent and work of musical director Sam Findlen-Goldman ’20 and choreographers Shae Gwydyr ’20 and Ellie Madwed ’20 are particularly evident in the performances of Curtis, Trombly, and Kraft as they guide the audience through Seymour’s trials and tribulations through top-notch harmonies and sharp dance numbers.
Demers and Carreras excel in their duets and solo numbers. Carreras breaks the audience’s heart in her solo, “Somewhere That’s Green,” as her gorgeous voice and vibrato convey Audrey’s dream of raising a family. Demers’ Seymour is endearing and lovably goofy, and his vocal range is incredible. The chemistry between Carreras and Demers is adorable, and the two sound marvelous together. The fan-favorite “Suddenly Seymour,” delivers, the audience is hanging on each of Carreras and Demers’ well-sung notes.
Demers and Hayden also make a phenomenal father and son pair, after Mr. Mushnik adopts Seymour in their song and dance number, “Mushnik and Son.” Hayden’s performance as Mr. Mushnik is heartwarming, clever, and hilarious. It is so genuinely fun to watch him prance across the stage, grumbling about Seymour’s mistakes, celebrating the shop’s newfound success with Audrey II, or advising Audrey to leave her no-good girlfriend, Scrivello.
Gutterman refreshingly updates to the show with her choice to cast Rozells as Orin Scrivello, a traditionally male role. Gutterman’s casting plays well in the show, and, more importantly, dispels the show’s traditionally skewed gender dynamics by placing a female actress in a powerful, yet evil, role. Though Chiffon, Crystal, and Ronnette are take-no-BS types of characters, the majority of the show’s female energy is usually centered around Audrey, who is unfortunately submissive and controlled by her abusive significant other. Rozells shone in the spotlight she made for herself as a female Orin Scrivello. She was intimidating while undeniably feminine.
From within his enormous plant-like contraption of a costume, Chun also shone as Audrey II. His quips were well-delivered, his tone threatening and ominous, and his mannerisms gave Audrey II her appropriately quirky personality. He also bellowed fantastically disguised as a homeless person in the show’s first full-cast number, “Skid Row.”
Gutterman’s Little Shop was a feel-good experience that was definitely worth seeing. I was grinning from ear to ear as the cast sang the show’s finale ultimo, “Don’t Feed the Plants.” I was lucky to be able to see the show this past weekend, and everyone involved with the production did an amazing job.