Little Shop of Horrors a dark rock comedy features doo-wop and Motown songs

VOORHEESVILLE — The Dionysians, this weekend, are taking on a new challenge, in performing the Little Shop of Horrors.

“We’ve done comedy, we’ve done dark plays, but not really a dark comedy,” said co-director Matt Robinson. “It is hard not to laugh when your characters are being eaten by a giant plant.”

Little Shop of Horrors, an Alan Menken and Howard Ashman production, follows the happenings in a skid row floral shop, as a hapless, orphaned shop worker, Seymour, raises a plant that feeds on human blood.

The play, originally produced in the 1960s, is described as a comedy horror rock musical, featuring doo-wop, rock and roll, and Motown songs.

Robinson, and co-director Wayne Manchester, said they picked the show based on the cast of characters.

“We were looking at what students we had, and what we thought we were capable of, and it just fit,” said Manchester, who has been directing the Dionysians since the fall of 2005.

“You don’t want to choose a play entirely based on who you have for the cast, but it really does factor into it,” said Robinson; Little Shop of Horrors will be the second play he has helped direct at Voorheesville.

The co-directors said the drama club lost a lot of seniors last year, and many of them weren’t replaced.

“It’s a very young cast this year,” Manchester said, but he called it “the hardest working cast” he’s ever seen.

The play can be performed with as few as eight cast members, or as many as 30, but Manchester said the Voorheesville production has roughly 25 performers.

The students have been rehearsing since January, dedicating about 14 hours per week to the musical.

Little Shop of Horrors presented a unique challenge in terms of rehearsing, the co-directors said, because the show includes four different plant puppets, none of which arrived until after the first two-and-a-half months of rehearsals.

“We had to work around imaginary puppets,” said Robinson. The cast members had to memorize their lines in advance of the arrival of the puppets, and then coordinate the scenes around an imaginary four-foot puppet.

There was an adjustment period once the puppets were procured, when the puppeteer and the student providing the offstage voice of the puppet had to learn to coordinate onstage actions and offstage voice to match exactly.

“We told the kids they had to work harder than ever because of this particular challenge, and they did — they memorized all of their lines way ahead of time,” said Manchester.

Robinson said the Dionysians has never performed Little Shop of Horrors, and the musical has a different tone than the drama clubs’ usual shows.

The students are excited to debut the play in front of audiences this weekend, said Manchester, but he said the finale of the play will be bittersweet.

“A lot of the cast members have been saying, ‘One week from today, it will all be over’ — and they’re not looking forward to it,” he said.

“The dedication I’ve seen from this cast has only gotten stronger as they’ve grown closer as a family over the last three months,” concluded Manchester.


The Dionysians will perform Little Shop of Horrors in the Lydia Tobler Performing Arts Center, at the Clayton A. Bouton High School, on Friday, March 30, and Saturday, March 31, at 7:15 p.m., and Sunday, April 1, at 2:15 p.m.

Pre-sale tickets are available now and can be obtained by visiting to Voorheesville Central School District website and downloading an order form. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students, and will also be sold at the door.

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