BY KARINA BLODNIEKS
Freshman Reese Abrahamoff did two things last night: endanger the human race and kick off one of CCHS’ best thespian performances in years.
Drama’s Little Shop of Horrors opened on Thursday, April 6 and didn’t fail to deliver. Following the storyline of Seymour Krelborn’s plant-gone-wild, Little Shop featured the best acting and singing CCHS has to offer, all the while handling dark and occasionally mature themes with grace.
The premise of Little Shop is multifaceted and enticing. Opening with the easily recognizable “Prologue” song by narrators Chiffon, Crystal and Ronnette (wonderfully played by Joania Hernandez, Melany Rivera and Allegra Montesano), the show immediately reveals its tongue-in-cheek humor with an upbeat ballad to an obviously dark show.
The next song “Skid Row” delves deeper into that theme, exploring the gritty feel of the street “where depression’s just status quo.”
Seymour (Reese Abrahamoff) is taken in off the streets by florist Mr. Mushnik (Miguel Andrade) to help run the flower shop. Seymour is immediately set up as a nobody, established in the first scene when he explains that he’s an orphan with no ties or assets. In his attempt to make a name for himself, he finds the flesh-eating venus flytrap, Audrey II (Austin Spoonts), which he feeds with his own blood – but fame is dangerous, and there’s something darker than blood-thirsty plants to grapple with.
The casting in the thespians’ most recent performance was stellar. Particularly astonishing was the portrayal of Seymour, who, incredibly, was played by a freshman. Abrahamoff’s singing, acting and choreography were indicative of someone with years of theater experience, and this only adds more dimension to this particularly troubled and conflicted character.
His romance with Audrey (Savannah Almeida) explores her fascination with the emotionally and physically abusive Orin Scrivello (Danilo Deluca), and even the subplot of domestic abuse is handled with considerable sensitivity, particularly by Abrahamoff. Deeper than that, however, is Seymour’s desire to rescue Audrey. His secret infatuation with her leads him to name the flytrap after her (Audrey II), speaking to his initial innocence and kindheartedness.
Almeida’s solo in “Somewhere That’s Green” was wonderfully done, adding dimension to her character and exhibiting her phenomenal singing voice.
The character of the cruel dentist Orin Scrivello is played with jest by Deluca, who brings the already hilarious dialogue to life. Little Shop plays on the reputation of dentists as bloodthirsty, cold-hearted sadists. (Why is Orin a dentist? “Son, you have a talent for causing things pain. Be a dentist. People will pay you to be inhumane.”)
But let us not forget the drama newbie in the oversized plant costume – senior Austin Spoonts’ portrayal of Audrey II had depth and personality despite the fact that we never see his face. Particularly considering this is his second-ever theatrical performance, the feat stands as one of the many dramatic milestones met tonight.
It seems that the CCHS thespians are dimming the lights in regard to their script choice. Following up the equally magnificent (but perhaps ambitiously cerebral) Picasso at the Lapin Agile was not an easy feat, particularly after taking up a new niche as a darker crew.
But the performance of Little Shop of Horrors managed to get the job done, all the while entertaining with quality humor. After a third director change in four years, it seems drama has finally found its place under the direction of English teacher Shannon Brandt-Asciolla.
Perhaps most notable is the with which the thespians are tackling theater. Director and script selector extraordinaire Brandt-Asciolla does not miss an opportunity to make her audience think.
After watching a two hour performance about a carnivorous plant, I was able to walk away with a deeper understanding of human greed and corruption. Careful attention to the dialogue and theme pays off.
Little Shop of Horrors made it clear that the thespians aren’t afraid to take risks. To anyone with money for a ticket and a few hours to spare this weekend: don’t feed the plants.