Beyond The Page Theatre Company of West Potomac High School presents the audience favorite musical Little Shop of Horrors, with book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken. With a trophy case full to the brim on prominent display, the theatre community has come to expect a lot from this young troupe – and they do not disappoint. Solid direction and energetic choreography by Philip Lee Clark, paired with a talented cast, makes for a memorable night of entertainment.
Set Designers Natalie Jurkowski and Ella Moore use a revolving stage to their advantage for this production, providing both the interior and exterior of a grimy little florist shop on Skid Row– a ghetto, shown from the worn brick and boarded windows all the way to the rusty little trash bins. The set is impressively detailed, and it that weren’t enough, it goes through an exhaustive transformation during the song “Closed For Renovation.”
Music Director Cathy Manley plays the piano offstage alongside Kendell Haywood on percussion, and while the live music is both ambitious and well-executed, at times they overpowered a good chunk of the vocals. Costumer Becky Lehner does a fine job catching the character’s individual personalities, including a sweater vest for the nerdy Seymour and a tough leather jacket for a rough-cut dentist. Spotlighting from Lighting Designer Sarah Bowman and sound effects by designer Gracie Denton complete the technical support for the show, which was exceedingly professional.
Speaking of ambition– there are two sets of full casts for this show, who split the run down the middle. On the night of my performance I saw David Jarzen as Seymour Krelborn, a put-upon floral assistant who is down on his luck in life and love. Seymour sings about his woes in the song “Skid Row (Downtown)” alongside his fellow cast-asides, including his crush and co-worker, Audrey (Nikki Amico). Audrey, a sweet girl with a tough life, sings of her simple dreams in the song “Somewhere That’s Green,” where Ms. Amico reveals a lovely singing voice.
When Seymour discovers a “strange and interesting” exotic plant that he names “Audrey II,” the flower shop becomes an overnight sensation, much to the delight of the formerly hopeless owner Mr. Mushnik, a particularly well-done performance by Jonathan Barger. The exuberated team celebrate with a lively (and silly!) dance during the number “Mushnik and Son.” Money, power, and fame follow this sudden success…but at what price? In a delightfully macabre plot twist, Seymour must decide how far he’ll go to “feed” his triumph.
And what a triumph it is! The plant itself, Audrey II, begins as a simple hand puppet that grows with each feeding, ultimately becoming so large that two puppeteers are needed to manipulate it (Emma Norville and Julian Worth, respectively.) The real scene stealer, however, is the voice of Audrey II, played offstage by Sam Rainey (at my performance.) Rainey is seated offstage amidst a hodgepodge of teetering electronics and other gadgets, and he throws himself into the role with passion and verve. The booming, jeering, and sometimes downright insulting voice of the plant is delivered hysterically, is delivered hysterically, and I’ll admit that most of the time I was watching Rainey’s offstage performance instead of the actual puppet itself.”
I was greatly impressed with the talent shown by such young artists. They worked together seamlessly and performed on a professional level. Austin Harlow is hilarious as the sadistic dentist Orin Scrivallo, and his fun number “Dentist” was a crowd favorite. David Jarzen and Nikki Amico show sweet chemistry in the romantic (and nicely sung) number “Suddenly, Seymour.”
I came in expecting to see a high school musical, and what I saw instead was a professional production. For a night of impressive young talent, catchy music, and an ever-growing and ever -hungry plant, I highly recommend West Potomac High School’s production of Little Shop of Horrors. Just don’t feed this plant!
Running Time: Approximately two hours, including one 15-minute intermission.
Meet the Cast of West Potomac High School’s ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ by Alyssa Denton.