Big move with ‘Little Shop of Horrors’

Countywide high school production will be first musical for Fairview director Mark Dobbs

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(Left to right) The two Seymours (Dylan Gardner and Jarrett Clayton-Hodges), along with Mushnik (Isaac Bozeman) walk through a scene in rehearsals for “Little Shop of Horrors.” (Photo courtesy of Mark Dobbs)

FAIRVIEW, Ala. – Fairview Theatre Works (FTW) director Mark Dobbs’ students asked for a musical, and he listened. This April, a countywide cast and crew featuring 29 students from five of the seven Cullman County Board of Education (CCBOE) high schools will take on the Broadway production “Little Shop of Horrors” from the legendary team of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, best known for their collaboration on the Disney films “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

But this is no fairy tale show. “Little Shop,” a stage version of the 1960 low-budget but cult classic motion picture spoof of 1950’s science fiction and horror movies, is the darkly comedic story of an inept florist who finds himself raising a plant that has a taste for human blood. The music stays true to the period of the movie, drawing from doo-wop and early rock and roll genres, as well as the classic Motown sound.

Dobbs told The Tribune that the move to musical theater was an anxious one for him. He wants, both as a director and as a coach, to do things that are high-quality, but his own lack of musical background made him question his chances of success.  

According to Dobbs, “We’ve had several of the Fairview kids each year ask and ask and ask, ‘Can we do a musical?’ I don’t have a music background, so I was always leery of it, because I knew- and I can’t sing at all- so I knew I wouldn’t be able to help anyone sing. But I finally heard some kids sing outside, in other venues and stuff, and I didn’t realize how many kids that we had just at Fairview that actually could sing. I began to think, ‘Maybe we can do this.’”

Hannah Crider came on board with Dobbs to handle vocal coaching and choreography, and the director said that she “is doing an incredible job.”

Why “Little Shop?”

Dobbs said, “‘Little Shop of Horrors’ has always been one of my favorites, so we decided to go from there. We talked about doing it just in Fairview, and then we decided to go ahead and do it for the countywide (show). Enough kids from the other schools are excited about it, too, so we ran with it.

“I tried to think of the audiences that we typically have where we are, and it needed to be a high-interest something to keep audiences’ attention, something they could sing along with if it’s the songs. There are just some musicals that I wouldn’t like, a lot of people wouldn’t like. It’s just-I don’t know-maybe not a great story or not that many songs that you’ll sing the next day, or something like that.

“But ‘Little Shop,’ I think it’s funny enough, it’s entertaining enough, and parts of it are scary enough. I think it’ll entertain.

The “wow” factor

Dobbs said, “One of the main characters is the Audrey II, which is the plant that makes it the little shop of horrors. We’ve rented four different sizes of puppets to portray the plant throughout the thing. It starts off as like a seedling in a coffee can and, by the finale, it fills the entire stage. So it grows; as the show goes, it gets bigger and bigger.

“I think people are going to be really, really entertained with both the music and the choreography. There’s a couple of big cast numbers; there’s a couple of duos and solos that are really, really good. All the songs are catchy. I’ve seen some musicals that, frankly, bored me, and I’m like, ‘I wish they’d quit singing and just finish this talking,’ you know. This isn’t like that: they’re fun, they’re catchy, there’s enough spoof of those 50’s horror movies and science fiction movies that it’s fun. And it moves quickly; I don’t think anybody will get bored. I don’t think anybody will lose interest.

“I think, with the quick movement and the plant itself and the puppet, and the fact that there’s a little bit of horror movie to it. I think the kids will be entertained. I think the adults will be entertained with the sheer entertainment value of it. The set’s going to be great again. Of course, (set builder) Mr. (Justin) Miller, our agriscience teacher, he works wonders with what we have. I know last year’s set was good, and this one will be even better.”

Get involved

Fairview Theatre Works is seeking sponsorship and support from businesses throughout Cullman County for this countywide production and is also looking for a few props.

Dobbs recently posted to social media, “I’m in search of four old rotary style phones (desk type, not wall-mounted), an old, non-electric typewriter and an old cash register (doesn’t have to work).”

If you or your business would like to help out, contact Fairview Theatre Works through Facebook at www.facebook.com/Fairview-Theatre-Works-1061368197295018/.

Save the date!

In-school performances of “Little Shop of Horrors” will begin Monday, April 13. Public shows are planned for Saturday and Sunday, April 18-19, and the following Friday and Saturday, April 24-25. Watch The Tribune for updates closer to opening and follow Fairview Theatre Works on Facebook at the address above.

Cast and crew

  • Audrey – Morgan Haynes, Ryleigh O’Ryan
  • Seymour – Jarret Clayton-Hodges, Dylan Wisener
  • Mushnik – Devan Humes, Isaac Bozeman
  • Ronette – Allison Frost, Jilly Frazier
  • Chiffon – Alexia Baughman, Lydia Baker
  • Crystal – Kaydee Roden, Emily Smith
  • Audrey II – Leighann Quinn, Alexia Baughman
  • Orin Scrivello – Matthew Baughman, Jarret Clayton-Hodges
  • Puppeteer – Ion Patrum
  • Martin Bernstein – Alana Nisley
  • Skip Snip – Manisha Adams
  • Mrs. Luce – Matthew Baughman
  • 1st Customer – Heather Twilley
  • 2nd Customer – Sebastian Watson
  • Patrick Martin – Alana Nisley
  • Wino #1 – Luke Roden
  • Wino #2 – Stephen Ratliff
  • Ensemble – Cynthia Lara, Alana Nisley, Manisha Adams, Harmon Adams, Heather Twilley, Luke Roden, Stephen Ratliff, Noah Frasier
  • Technical Crew – Keira Pitts, Katie Johnson
  • Stage Managers – Brianna Carroll, Kayrie Weldon
  • Choreographer/Vocal Coach – Hannah Crider
  • Sets – Justin Miller

 

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com