Botany Was Never This Fun In School

(Originally written Sept. 2010)

BOTANY WAS NEVER THIS FUN IN SCHOOL

by Charles Jurries


I won’t kill you for food.

That said, if a giant killer plant asked me to do so, I might stop to consider that possibility.

This new found philosophical situation came after seeing the Circle Theatre’s production of Little Shop of Horrors. The campy sci-fi spoof images what would happen if a poor hapless nobody achieved fantastic fame because of a exotic plant. The twist to keeping the fame alive, however, comes at a bloody price.

The lead role of lovable loser Seymour Krelborn is capably played by Justin Kilduff. He is believable as a botanist nerd helplessly in love with a co-worker, and has a fantastic voice for the musical numbers. However, of all the cast members, it’s Krelborn whose voice gets easily lost in even a simple duet. However, when you can hear it, he has great vocal chords. They are just easily overtaken by more powerful singers from the chorus.

In fact, most of the entire cast is stacked with powerful singers. If you were expecting some half-grade monotone singing, you would be delightfully disappointed in what this group has to offer.

One of the real scene-stealers of the entire performance comes from Stephen Grey, who plays the sadistic dentist, Orin. His over-the-top energy makes the stage come to life whenever he’s around. Not to speak despairingly of the other actors – Jana Veldheer is a great fit as the lead actress—but it’s Grey who brings the most energy to the stage.

That is, of the human actors.

The diabolical scheming plant, Audrey II, is the real reason to see this production. Clearly having been blessed with people with wonderful imaginations – and deep pockets – Circle Theatre does great justice to this character. From being in a tiny flower pot to its bigger incarnations, the Audrey II is a visual wonder to behold.

The colors, the vines, everything about the monster plant enchanted me. In its final state, I was in awe in how the stage workers were able to bring the plant to life, make the mouth in sync with the songs; everything about it was pure magic for me.

If for nothing else, see the play for the Audrey II.

For someone who has never been to the Circle Theatre when they perform at Aquinas College, it was nice to see them use the intimate stage space to their advantage. Stage left and stage right often mean walking right by audience members in their seats. In a few musical numbers, audience members are directly singled out by cast members. It may be planned, it may be staged (pardon the pun), but seeing the actors right down there with the audience at times was a refreshing way to view a stage production.

When you’ve left, you may question who in your circle of friends you might offer up as a sacrifice to the big, singing plant you have to deal with everyday. Chances are greater; you’ll leave singing a few songs, having been pleasantly entertained for a couple of hours.

After all, it may be a little shop of horrors, but in reality, it’s a little stage of fun.

Little Shop of Horrors is presented by Community Circle Theatre and concluded its run Sept. 15-18. The show is set at the Performing Arts Center of Aquinas College.

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