Applause, applause: two castes run BHS ” little shop of horrors’
By Pam Johnson / Zip06.com • 05/05/2021 07:00 am EST • Last updated 05/07/2021 11:07 am
With two throws ready to perform three shows each; and with rehearsals completed in about half the time it usually takes, Branford High School (BHS) Performing Arts has pulled off a modern miracle to put on a full scale Broadway stage. Little shop of horrors, at the Cathyann Roding Auditorium of the BHS (and in live streaming) from Wednesday to Sunday, May 12 to 16.
Due to pandemic protocols, all live shows have been limited to just 100 audience members per show and are expected to sell out to accommodate family members of the cast and crew.
A new show
Last year’s BHS production of Sweeney todd passed a full dress rehearsal, but did not make it to shows because COVID restrictions closed schools until the end of the school year.
While many high schools stuck to the license extensions granted for the 2020 shows, co-directors Colin Sheehan and Michael Martone have decided to bring a brand new production to the BHS stage in 2021.
“Sweeney todd was a special show for our seniors last year, so we couldn’t repeat last year’s show, and we’re just going to make Little Shop special for seniors this year, ”Sheehan said.
Co-directors had to wait until March 2021 before they were finally given the green light to produce some type of student performance, with many unknowns still being taken into account due to COVID-19. Looking for a new show they hit Little shop of horrors, which grew from its off-Broadway origins to spawn the cult favorite movie, then went to Broadway in 2003.
Once Sheehan and Martone got the license, they held auditions, picked the players, and got to work.
“We love a good challenge,” Sheehan said. “We put the show on in six weeks – we normally have three months.”
The show is also known for some very memorable puppets, including an alarming talking plant, “Audrey II”, and the BHS production has them. The puppeteers include four students and former BHS musical pupil Scott A. Towers, who is also involved in other aspects of the production.
“The puppets were seen on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. They’re from a production company called Monkey Boys Productions, ”Sheehan said. “We spent a pretty penny on them, but we think it’s worth it.”
Sheehan said he selected Little shop of horrors partly because of its nimble staging and smaller cast, but also because they felt they could commit to doubling each part and splitting the show’s performances into two groups.
“Small shop is a very small cast. We threw more than average, and we did two castings, ”Sheehan said, adding that the effort was to make sure students rehearse safely in COVID-19 protocols, while making preparations for have students who could provide reinforcements. for a given room, if necessary.
The cast also follows the school district’s “orange” and “blue” student cohort model.
Small shopThe series’ central character, Seymour Krelborn, will be played by second year BHS student Liev Shpitalnik for three performances with the series’ Orange ‘cast and by David Rosenthal for three shows with the series’ Blue’ cast. series. Rosenthal was chosen as the BHS leader in Sweeney todd in 2020, with Shpitalnik as an understudy.
When it all stopped last year, “it was really sad, but at the time we didn’t know it would be as long as it last,” said Rosenthal. “But I think we will always hold Sweeney todd in our hearts and think of it as an amazing experience. Even though we couldn’t play, we still have to do a musical. We also had the experience of preparing a [Stephen] Sondheim show. It taught me a lot. “
Rosenthal’s previous stage credits include Broadway Mathilde. He will study at the Boston Conservatory next year.
Rosenthal is delighted that the public is seeing Small shop and said the cast and crew have great confidence in Sheehan and Martone’s ability to put on a big show on a tight deadline.
“We trusted them and we relied on them and their process,” Rosenthal said. “It’s the first time we’ve done two throws which is another challenge, but we got over it and the show is amazing. You would never know it was all done in six weeks.
The show will be supported by a live seven-player orchestra, supervised by Martone, who is also a music teacher at the BHS.
Martone’s expertise in set design is recognizable in this production, which includes an automated assembly that was motorized with remote control work by student designer Christian Bjork, a member of the robotics team who also helped Martone with the Sweeney Todd Mobile Set in 2020. Former theater students helped paint the set.
The choreography of the show is by Paola Rarick, artistic director of StudioONE Dance Center in Branford. Rarick worked with the cast and in particular the “Divas” of the series, a total of eight players, with four in each cohort (typically, the production has three Divas). Senior Sophia Coppola, who plays a Diva, said she was thrilled to have the chance to perform on the BHS stage in a year where she was unsure if the show would continue.
“Like everyone else, I thought it was going to be another year, and I would have missed my last two shows,” Coppola said. “Last year was so hard to lose. I loved the show last year. But being on stage again with a cast that I love so much is so exciting, ”said Coppola. “I know this opening night I’m going to cry – both for the other cast and for my cast, because it’s so emotional. I’m just delighted to be able to come back on stage.
The show’s producer is Barbara Barringham, a veteran mother of BHS Performing Arts. BHS math teacher Alica Loesche is the costume designer for the show and Lauren Farrell, BHS math teacher, handles ticket sales.
Other student players include Bella Rarick and Alina Catania (playing the roles of Audrey), Lucas Johnson and Gabe Villa (Orin), Kyle Bissell (Mushnik), Dorian Hayes (Audrey II) and other Divas Lexi Brown, Hanna Bloomquist , Ash Duong, Amelie Parczany, Lexi Mascaro, Layla Richmond and Carly Pierre-Louis. The show’s narrators are Eric Gagliardi and Stella Pennacchini. The Ensemble players are Levi Burger, Jade Bocciarelli, Matt Cabahug, Dylan Kealey, Bella Desorbo, Ava Dombrowski, Matt Law, Alex Pombo, Molly Pombo, Victoria Freeman, Casey Maymon, Nick Schettino, Caroline Spaulding and Aubrey Weted. The pupil puppeteers are Dimitrios Gionteris, Lenora Longway, David Rosenthal and Liev Shipitalnik.
“It was a challenge for us, it was a challenge for them, but we can’t wait to hear an audience cheering,” Sheehan said.
BHS Performing Arts presents Little shop of horrors Wednesday May 12, Thursday May 13 and Friday May 14 at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 15 at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday May 16 at 2 p.m. at the Cathyann Roding Auditorium at BHS, 185 East Main Street. Advance ticket sales are required and limited due to COVID-19; virtual viewing tickets are also available. For more information and to purchase tickets, find Branford High School Performing Arts on Facebook (@BranfordHighPerformingArts).