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Dickinson Presents 'Little Shop of Horrors' With a Twist

Little Shop of Horrors. Photo by A. Pierce Bounds '71.

Little Shop of Horrors. Photo by A. Pierce Bounds '71.

Dickinson College production of Little Shop of Horrors. Photo by A. Pierce Bounds '71.

Photo by A. Pierce Bounds '71.

Production features catchy tunes, sequined puppets, ecological theme

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

This spring, Dickinson’s theatre and music departments present a zany musical with a thoroughly modern twist. Showing April 7-10, Little Shop of Horrors is the first Mermaid Players production staged in Mathers Theatre since fall 2019.

Little Shop of Horrors is a horticultural horror story, jam-packed with offbeat hilarity, outlandish situations and catchy, Motown-inspired tunes. It tells the tale of a meek flower-shop worker, Seymour, the girl he secretly loves, her terrible boyfriend and a bloodthirsty plant named Audrey II, portrayed as a series of increasingly large—and demanding—puppets.

DIckinson College's LIttle Shop of Horrors.

Photo by A. Pierce Bounds '71.

The stage musical began life as a 1960 cult movie directed by B-movie great Roger Corman, featuring an appearance by an early-career Jack Nicholson, and later became a Broadway hit. Puppeteer Frank Oz reimagined Little Shop for the silver screen in 1986. Dickinson’s production, like the Broadway show, retains Corman’s classic feel but also resets the musical into a future era—a time when the grid has gone down and the web has collapsed. Audrey II, in this light, is a nonnative-species plant, adapting genetically—and in murderous ways—to global climate change.

 

Little Shop of Horrors. Photo by A. Pierce Bounds '71.

Little Shop of Horrors. Photo by A. Pierce Bounds '71.

This production is directed by Professor of Theatre Karen Kirkham, with Assistant Professor of Music James Martin as music director.

Students are involved in every aspect of the show, from performing to set and lighting design, costuming, props and puppetry. The puppets were created by Professor of Theatre Sherry Harper-McCombs and James Van Kuilenburg ’23 (history, women’s, gender & sexuality studies) with help from prop-master Roya Minovi ’25 (undeclared). Kathryn Hickey '24 (psychology, environmental science) and Ivy Johnson '24 (archaeology, classical studies) work two of the puppets and manage the puppets backstage, while Genesis Whitlock ’25 (environmental science) is the puppeteer and voice actor for the final version of Audrey II.

Little Shop of Horrors. Photo by A. Pierce Bounds '71.

Photo by A. Pierce Bounds '71.

Collaboration is an essential part of experience, notes Elizabeth Price ’22 (history, Russian), who’s performed mainstage and cabaret-style events throughout her time at Dickinson and now serves as stage manager for the very first time this spring.

“It’s hard to talk about the Mermaid Players and not mention the amazing community it embodies,” she says. “Students from all across the college, no matter graduation year, major or previous theater experience, are able to come together and create something amazing, and since all aspects of production have some student involvement, there’s something for everyone.”

Admission is free to Little Shop of Horrors, but seats must be reserved at https://dickinson.universitytickets.com/w/default.aspx. Showtimes in Mathers Theatre are 7 p.m., April 7-9 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 10. Audience members must wear masks.

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Published April 5, 2022