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Area Natives to Perform in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ at Clarion University
CLARION, Pa. – Clarion University will present the musical comedy “Little Shop of Horrors” Feb. 20-24 at Marwick-Boyd Little Theatre. Performances begin at 8 p.m. each evening, except for a special 2 p.m. matinee Feb. 24.
Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for children under 12, and free for Clarion University students with ID are are available by calling 814-393-2787 or visiting www.clarionuniversitytickets.com.
Written in 1982 by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, “Little Shop of Horrors” tells the story of a down-on-its-luck flower shop on Skid Row that is saved from closing when a “strange and interesting” plant begins to bloom and grow, thanks to a most unusual diet: human blood. In the process, shop workers Seymour and Audrey overcome insecurity and poor relationship choices, respectively, to find unexpected love, all while the plant works toward world domination.
The music in the show is a mix of doo-wop and rock music reminiscent of the early 1960s, and audiences will be treated to a five-piece rock band providing the backing to well-known numbers like “Feed Me!,” “Suddenly Seymour” and “Suppertime.”
Chris Taylor, a 2000 Clarion University theatre department graduate, is directing the production in place of professor Marilouise “Mel” Michel, who died suddenly last fall. Michel had been the director of mainstage musicals at Clarion for more than 20 years.
“I’m humbled and grateful that the department asked me to come back and fill this role,” Taylor said. “I worked with Mel on more than a dozen productions in school and as a community member, and I truly hope our show will honor her memory. ‘Little Shop’ is a blend of character and camp that would have been right up her alley.”
Clarion’s production is led by three students whose performances are graduation projects toward BFA degrees in theatre. Justin Baumgarten of Philipsburg heads the cast as the nerdy, plant-loving Seymour, and he is joined by Betsy Novotny of West Homestead as Audrey, the girl of his dreams. Nathan Bunyon of Philadelphia plays the role of Orin, a sadistic dentist whose penchants for pain spill over into his relationship with Audrey.
Additional student performers include Nate Horner of Reynoldsville as Mr. Mushnik and Kevin Bradley of Shippenville as the voice of the plant. Jhayda Washington of Philadelphia, Abby Koebley of Warren, and Shelby Hudson of Summerville form a trio of street urchins that act as Greek chorus-style observers throughout the show. Greyson Knepp of Clarion plays various roles throughout the production, including a customer and television producer. Amiris Maxwell of Philadelphia and Dante Engelmann of Munson are puppeteers for the plant. Understudies are Ally Davis of New Castle and Mark Pintar of Robinson.
On the technical side of the production, associate professor of theatre Ed Powers is the set designer, and fellow faculty member Myra Bullington is the costume designer. Brennan Bell, a former teacher at DuBois Area High School, is the vocal director, and Garrett Smelcer is the pit director/piano player. Rob Hoover is the technical director, and junior Lindsay Smelcer of Bensalem is the lighting designer. Tree Zuzzio of Camp Hill and Dayse Laslo of Emlenton are the student property designers. Sophomore Abigail Stone-Huchko of Burgettstown is the production stage manager, and Tylar Nardei of Aliquippa is the assistant stage manager. Sophomore Ben Fye of Woodland is the sound designer. Zachary Rupp of Nottingham, Maryland, is the master electrician.
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