“Little Shop of Horrors” to Open in Woods Theatre

Want to see a murderous plant musical? Sure, it sounds weird, but the Theatre Department has proved that it’s also pretty hilarious. “Little Shop of Horrors” will open at Woods Theatre on March 5 at 8 pm.

Directed by Maurice J. Moran, the show tells the story of Seymour (Brandon Wiener), a flowershop salesman who grows a strange new plant that he calls Audrey II. He really just wants to help Mr. Mushnik (Nick Zaccario) keep his shop open and maybe impress Audrey (Brooke McCarthy). Things take a turn for the worst when he realizes the plant needs blood to survive.

Zaccario plays the oldest character, but he is actually one of the youngest cast members. Zaccario was thrilled to be cast. The communication and theatre major said, “Being a part of the cast of ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ as a freshman nonetheless, is truly an honor – it’s one of my favorite shows of all time, and I was just thrilled to get to revive my role as Mushnik two years in a row.” (Zaccario previously played Mushnik in a high school production of the show.)

Moran said that casting was a very hard process this year. Anyone from the university in any department is welcome to audition for the Theatre Department productions every year. This year’s cast includes students from the theatre, communication, music, political science and psychology majors.

Moran said, “We had 30 actors trying out for 10 roles! I know it is almost a cliche that a director says ‘this was a very difficult decision’ but honestly, it was extremely difficult to not cast so many students who were very talented and dedicated. I am sorry that the musical doesn’t have more roles to go around! That will be something we’ll take into account when choosing next year’s shows.”

One of those students is Stephen Lang, a sophomore political science major. While you might not see Lang, he does spend more than half the show onstage. Lang is a puppeteer for Audrey II. He makes sure the plant moves in time with the voice of Audrey II. “Puppeteering was an interesting experience, one I’m glad I was able to have. I had never done anything like it before, and it was a lot harder than I expected. It was very demanding on my body, but hey, I didn’t have to go to the gym this semester,” Lang joked. 

Megan Van Tine, senior communication major, also puppeteers Audrey II while Nick Rossi, senior psychology major, voices her. That’s three actors for one character, so it’s fair to say that the show is fairly complicated to direct. That’s why Moran received some help from junior Zoe Bulitt.

Bulitt, a theatre major, plays various bit parts in the show, yet she spent a lot of her rehearsal time assistant directing. Bulitt said, “Assistant Directing involved me not only writing down the blocking [movements] of each character and knowing where they have to be, but also making sure that the director’s vision is being upheld.”

Bulitt loved being part of the creative process. “My favorite part of creating a show is all the little things that really go into it. Most people probably think because its such a well known musical that not much work had to go into creating the show since its done so often, but everybody really put their own flare into this show and it really shows throughout the production,” the Maryland native said.

Zaccario’s favorite part is a little more social. Zaccario said, “You know, we rehearsed about a month and a half for four days a week, so getting to become familiar with the cast and crew is essential since you spend so much time around each other…We’ve all become one big dysfunctional and goofy family, and that’s the goal of theatre: to create a lasting community of friends and family and put on a fantastic show that blows away the audience.”

The Theatre Department seems pretty confident that audiences will love the show. Moran even suggested that non-musical fans might enjoy the play as well. “It’s a fun story with some very memorable music. For students who may not have had an opportunity to see Broadway musicals, ‘Little Shop’ is a great introduction to the genre. And, thanks to Dean [of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Stanton] Green, for MU students, it’s free!”

“Little Shop of Horrors” stars Brooke McCarthy, Brandon Wiener, Nick Zaccario, Michael Rosas, Jasmine Walker, Devon Henry, Mahalia Jackson, Zoe Bulitt, Chelsea Barreto, Stephen Lang, Bob Davies, Megan Van Tine and Nick Rossi.

“Little Shop of Horrors” runs in the Lauren K. Woods Theatre March 5 – 8 and 11 – 13 at 8 pm and March 9 at 3 pm. For tickets, visit monmouth.edu/arts or call 732-263-6889 (students should call or visit in person for free tickets).

PHOTO TAKEN by Nicole Massabrook