By Danielle Silvia
Shouts coming from a live plant and many scared shop owners could be heard through the corridors of Kendall Hall from Nov. 14 through Nov. 17 while TCNJ Musical Theatre performed “Little Shop of Horrors,” after a culmination of over two months of planning and preparation.
The organization decided to dedicate the performance to the memory of the late music education major Jason Zujkowski, who had originally been set to play the baritone saxophone in this production, and to honor his love of music and theater.
The show took place in the Don Evans Black Box Theater and starred freshman chemistry major Jonathan Vogel as Seymour and his love interest, Audrey, played by sophomore elementary education major with a music concentration, Mary Direnzo. The show was directed by junior communication studies major Jason Monto.
“Little Shop” was Monto’s first experience directing a TMT show, but he had some experience from his time as assistant director of “Sweeney Todd” last fall.
Rehearsals began back in September, and students quickly came together to make the show happen. Monto enjoyed the experience directing and working with such a cohesive group.
“Seeing it all come together before my eyes is really amazing to me,” Monto said. “Stringing together everyone’s individual talents to make people laugh, smile, and forget their troubles for two hours is something special.”
“Little Shop” is a mix of drama, romance, comedy and adventure that creates one terrifying treat. Mr. Mushnik’s plant shop is financially failing, but when a plant appears and is captured after a solar eclipse, business begins to boom again as the plant grows. However, it appears that human blood is the only thing that satisfies the plant’s, Audrey II, hunger, and Seymour, a shop worker who falls for fellow worker Audrey, work together to save themselves from the blood sucking plant while keeping the business blossoming.
While the two begin secretly feeding Audrey’s abusive boyfriend’s body, dentist Orin Scrivello, to the plant, and eventually Mr. Mushnik, Audrey and Seymour must make a decision-save their lives and budding romance, or die together and let Audrey II take over.
The set featured Mr. Mushnik’s plant shop, the main setting and three rotating walls that became both the dentist’s office and Skid Row bricks. Set designers and the carpentry team spent many hours together devising a plan to steady the walls and design them to fit the show’s needs.
“At first, the walls were a bit wobbly, but now they can swiftly move and are steady, which is exactly what this show demands,” said Rebecca Conn, a senior math major and assistant carpenter.
This is Conn’s fourth time working with the carpentry team. She also served as the treasurer for All College Theatre. Conn enjoyed working on the production and thought the show turned out well.
“This was one of the best shows I think that TMT has put on, and everything from the music, acting, and set was on point,” Conn said.
Even in the midst of a snow day, and a show cancellation on Nov. 15, the team came together to put on four sold-out shows.
Viewers were amazed at Audrey II’s growth throughout the show, as she began as a tiny plant, then was able to sit comfortably in a pot on a shelf, outgrowing that pot, and finally, growing to lie on the floor.
Audrey II was the product of an actress and two puppeteers. Senior management major Karaline Rosen voiced the plant and puppeteers, senior journalism and professional writing major Kyle Elphick and senior finance major Gigi Garrity helped move the plant convincingly around the stage.
Audrey II’s frightening yet amazing capabilities added to the show’s success, and helped develop the love not just between Seymour and Audrey, but also between the cast and crew.
“Every production has a story, but this was one that I will hold in my heart,” Monto said.