“The Plant” and its voracious appetite come to life this spring as the Ponderosa High School Drama Department presents “Little Shop of Horrors.”
Don’t get attached to these actors; your favorite on-stage star will likely end up as dinner before the show ends.
Like poor Audrey, played by Ashley Arbis. This leading lady secretly loves Seymour, with whom she works with at Mushnik’s Flower Shop on Skid Row. But her self-esteem is low, Arbis said, and dating an abusive dentist only adds to Audrey’s insecurities.
“I wear a lot of make-up, revealing clothes just to feel better about myself,” Arbis explained of her character.
But dreamy Audrey is much more than platinum blonde hair and short skirts. Arbis said she keeps Audrey’s backstory and dreams — a nice house and picket fence — in mind when she’s on stage. Her dreams about Seymour briefly come true until …
Before she auditioned, Arbis confessed she’d never heard of “Little Shop of Horrors” until audition notices went up. The 17-year-old senior has been involved with choir for years and decided to test out her acting skills.
“It’s pretty exciting because it’s my first time (acting in a musical) and I have the lead,” she said.
Arbis shares the spotlight with Mason Bergenholtz, who plays shy, misunderstood Seymour. “He’s a fun character,” Bergenholtz said. “He’s very reactionary … in good and bad ways.”
Playing Seymour requires Bergenholtz to stretch his acting range; the character has clumsy physical moments that require the young actor to throw himself across the stage but also very emotional moments. Seymour’s lured by The Plant’s promises of a better life and makes the decision to feed it … people
“Throughout the play he gains confidence as he feeds the plant,” said the 16-year-old sophomore. That confidence, however, does not last.
Director and drama teacher Ryan Pullen, who came to Ponderosa this year, said theatergoers who watch this play will see a different side of the story than the one portrayed in the 1986 film starring Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene.
“It’s definitely a show that’s relevant to our culture and times,” said Pullen, who said he loved the musical as a kid. “It’s about the unfortunate people who live on Skid Row, a mythical slum, and are trying to get out of their circumstances.
“The Plant is like a genie and that becomes very seductive to Seymour,” he continued.
But wishes come with a hefty price and soon The Plan consumes everything Seymour treasures. “This is a morality tale, not a love story,” Pullen noted.
Narrating this tale are the Doo Wop girls. They take different sides and the story progresses and act similar to The Fates in Roman and Greek mythology, according to actress Kerrigan Sneve, 17, who described the characters as very emotional and “150 percent sassy.”
“There’s a hidden violence in everything we do,” she said. “It’s a fun role.”
With the dazzling musical numbers composed by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken (who later would become Disney music legends) and a plant that grows and grows, “Little Shop of Horrors” is a spectacle on stage. Ponderosa High School Drama Department’s production runs April 3-5 and April 10-12 with showtimes at 7 p.m. all six days and 2 p.m. matinees on April 5 & 12. Tickets are $15 each; PHS students with valid ASB sticker pay $12. Reserve your seats by e-mailing [email protected] High School is located at 3661 Ponderosa Road in Shingle Springs.
Seymour (Mason Bergenholtz), Audrey (Ashley Arbis), Audrey II (Collin Prock); Mushnik (Jason Block), Dentist (Joe Thuesen), Doo Wop girls (Kerrigan Sneve, Monica Joy and Sarah Howlitt), Mrs. Luce (Caylea Humphrey), Skip Snip (Sarah Enos), Mr. Bernstein (Matt Akimbo), Nurses (Breanna Lambert, Sabrina Jackson, Bri Shortt and Sarah Enos), Chorus: Alexus Bartok, Taylor Bartosh, Blue Curry, Hannah Duane, Sarah Enos, Noah Hallman, Ayla Hartvig, Caylea Humphrey, Sabrina Jackson, Matt Kimbro, Greg Kirby, Breanna Lambert, Clinton Mora, Katie Rose, Bri Shortt and Kylie Smith.