Seymour (Justus Limpright) holds his beloved Audrey (Emma Deering) in front of the giant plant Audrey II in the climactic scene of the Ballenas Secondary School musical theatre production of Little Shop of Horrors at the School's Whalebone Theatre last Tuesday.

Students deliver a comedy of horrors

Ballenas musical theatre students to stage Little Shop of Horrors beginning Feb. 24

The Ballenas Secondary School Musical Theatre’s annual spring production has everything an audience could want in a musical: a lovestruck couple, singers and dancers, a psychotic dentist and power tools.

Oh, and a man-eating plant.

A cast of nearly 40 students will showcase the off-Broadway cult classic Little Shop of Horrors, a comedy horror rock musical, at the school’s Whalebone Theatre Feb. 24-26 and Feb. 29-March 2.

“We did Grease last year, and this is sort of like the dark side of Grease,” said Doug Campbell, the school’s theatre teacher and director. “I love the songs in this show. The music has that sort of be-bop, 1950s feel.”

Campbell said the choice of Little Shop was actually made four years ago, when Justus Limpright, who plays the lead character, Seymour Krelborn, came into the Ballenas theatre program.

“I did this show 10 years ago at a school I taught at previously, and I saw (Limpright) playing Seymour four years ago. To me, Justus just owns the part of Seymour.”

Seymour is a nerdy, orphan employee in the downtrodden, Skid Row flower shop of crusty Mr. Mushnik, a role shared by Brendan Arkwright and Marc Robertson Ricard. He is secretly in love with co-worker Audrey (played by Juliana Cook and Emma Deering), but she, in turn, is dating the abusive and sadistic dentist, Orin Scrivello (Katja Kiefer and Alex Balinski).

When Seymour finds an exotic plant at a Chinese florist during a solar eclipse, he names it Audrey II and brings it to Mushnik’s shop, where it becomes a popular attraction and boosts traffic and sales to the struggling business.

But the plant feeds only on human blood and flesh, and uses Seymour’s desire for Audrey, financial success and a stable family life to manipulate the conflicted young man into a series of choices with disastrous consequences.

“It’s like a parable, a lighthearted satire on the evils of greed,” said Campbell. “It’s like the Faust (bargain with the devil) story. Seymour doesn’t deserve his fate, but he succumbs to greed and he pays the price.”

The story is driven by its songs and characters, including a Greek chorus made up of Kyra Anderson, Lily Fanyeck, Mia Murray and Madison Poole. Ostensibly street urchins, they strut the stage in spangled dresses while alternately narrating the story and providing backup vocals.

Other students appear in a substantial troupe of backup dancers or as backup singers, complete with the flowing robes of a gospel church choir.

“We’ve got almost 40 kids in the cast,” said Campbell. “The script didn’t call for that many, but I found roles for them.”

At the centre of all the activity is Audrey II, a belligerent, trash-talking plant portrayed by a series of ever-larger prop plants Campbell was given by a professional theatre company in Victoria.

In a technical rehearsal held last week, the students dove into their roles with relish. Limpright and Deering sold the parts of the star-crossed couple and carried the musical numbers with a remarkable degree of maturity. Arkwright and Kiefer had hilarious moments camping up the parts of Mushnik and Scrivello, respectively. And the sheer numbers in the cast boost the scale of the songs and large pieces to good effect.

“The cartoony characters are fun for the kids,” Campbell said. “But the relationships are real, which lets the audience identify with them.”

All tickets for the musical are $10, and are available only at the door on show nights. Campbell cautions that the Ballenas productions “have become quite popular the last few years” and that would-be audience members should be sure to arrive early to ensure seating.

Little Shop of Horrors will play Feb. 24, 25, 26 and 29, and March 1-2, beginning at 7 each night.

Seymour (Justus Limpright) is collared by psycho dentist Orin Scrivello (Katya Kiefer) during rehearsal for the Ballenas Secondary School musical theatre production of Little Shop of Horrors. — Image credit: J.R. Rardon/PQB NEWS

Just Posted

Gr. 7s learn about digital safety, health, consent at con in Parksville

SD69 hosts first Health and Wellness Conference for students headed to high school

Qualicum Beach east village plans take shape

Staff moving forward with east village concept

Three-for-one at Parksville studio for tour

Local artists participating in Central Island Studio Tour May 26-27

Pole dancers bring disco theme for second Errington hall event

Island Talent Pole Fitness show to include national champs on June 2

UPDATE: Three-vehicle crash stalls traffic at orange bridge in Parksville

Truck veers into oncoming traffic after left-side axel ‘tore off’

Vancouver Island girl scores with winning song for BC Summer Games

‘Colours’ is a perfect theme for 2018 BC Summer Games

Feds limit chinook fishery to help killer whale recovery

Chinook is main food source for only 76 southern residents killer whales left

B.C. mom who died just before daughter’s wedding wanted family to be happy: twin

Ann Wittenberg was pulled into the ocean while on a surf board in Tofino last weekend

Courtenay-Alberni MP calls for lifeguards at popular surf spot near Tofino

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is defending its decision to cancel the surf guard program.

Harvey Weinstein to surrender in sex misconduct probe: officials

Would be first criminal charge against Weinstein since scores of women came forward

Fuel truck crash closes B.C. highway, sends two to hospital

The Trans-Canada Highway on Vancouver Island is expected to be closed until Thursday evening

Media are not an arm of the police, Vice lawyer tells Supreme Court hearing

Ben Makuch challenges Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that he must give materials for stories to RCMP

B.C. launches plan to tackle doctor shortage, emergency room congestion

John Horgan aims to set up regional primary care networks in a ‘team-based’ approach

Vancouver, Squamish pipeline challenges dismissed by court in B.C.

Justice Christopher Grauer ruled the province’s decision to issue the certificate was reasonable

Most Read