By Walter Villa, Special to STU
Those are words St. Thomas University’s Director of Vocal Arts Dr. Elizabeth Turner and her students have used to describe “Little Shop of Horrors,” the musical they will perform three times this weekend.
Showtimes at Monsignor Pace High School are as follows: Friday and Saturday night at 7p.m., and Sunday at 2p.m.
“If you blink, you will miss a lot of stuff,” said STU junior Marlon Mustelier, a 21-year-old psychology major who will play Mr. Mushnick in this weekend’s show. “There’s so much stuff going on – it’s chaotic.”
By now, most people are familiar with “Little Shop,” which has been described as a horror-comedy-rock musical.
With music by Alan Menken and lyrics and a book by Howard Ashman, “Little Shop” made its debut off-off Broadway in 1982.
The musical, which tells the story of a florist who cultivates a plant that feeds on human blood and flesh, became a movie in 1986. The movie starred Rick Moranis as Seymour Krelborn, the nerdy florist, with additional roles going to actors such as Steve Martin, John Candy, Jim Belushi, Bill Murray, and Christopher Guest.
In STU’s musical, the headline roles have gone to Yves Bienaime (who plays Seymour); Elizabeth Espino (Audrey); and Mustelier, whose performance as the grumpy flower-shop owner bears watching.
“In the movie version, Mr. Mushnick is more angry and selfish,” Mustelier said. “I’m playing him as more caring. I’m making the character my own.”
The cast also includes Anmalya Delva, a 20-year-old junior who is majoring in Political Science with a minor in International Relations.
Delva, who aspires to be an actress, singer, and dancer with an additional dream of owning an entertainment management company, will be playing the role of Crystal this weekend.
“My character is sassy and funny,” Delva said. “But she has a soft spot for the Audrey character played by (Espino).”
Delva played the role of Lindsay in STU’s most recent musical this past April, which was Godspell.
“It was stressful because it was our first play at St. Thomas,” Delva said of Godspell. “It was hard to find our footing.
“In Godspell, I had a solo called Bless the Lord. It was stressful pushing myself to be at my best.”
This time, Delva has taken more of a leadership role, especially helping her classmates with choreography, which is one of her strengths from her days in high school musical theatre at Monsignor Pace High School.
Delva said the cast and crew have bonded since they started practicing Little Shop in late August.
“We have gone from shy students to being comfortable with each other,” she said. “There’s been a lot of work done to put our collective best foot forward.
“I’m excited for the audience to see our performances.”
The rest of the cast includes Matthew Dadaille (Audrey II voice); Adam Perez-Pinon (Audrey puppeteer); Luca Zanutto (Audrey II understudy); Adrian Lopez (Orin the dentist); Shayane Jones (Chiffon); Elgar William (Ronnette); Janaih Viel (Urchin); Tamia Hanna (Urchin); and Mekhi Williams (Mr. Bernstein/Agent/Mrs. Luce).
Dadaille, who is the voice of Audrey II, is a 23-year-old senior who is majoring in Criminal Justice with the dream of becoming an R&B singer.
As for this weekend’s shows, Dadaille said the rehearsals have gone smoothly … with one caveat.
“Once you realize how close we are to Friday, it gets stressful,” Dadaille said. “We have a good cast and a lot of great people working on the show.
“But it’s a different feeling when you get on stage, and you can visualize the space where we will be working.
“In class, there is only so much space. On stage, it gives you the confidence to do what you want.”
The audience this weekend will add yet another dimension.
“For any actor, once you see the audience is liking what we’re doing, it gives us an extra boost to perform even better,” Dadaille said. “In front of a crowd, actors can deliver lines in ways we’ve never seen before in rehearsals.”
Another key to this weekend’s musical is the stage crew. That includes set designer Perez-Pinon, who is also mentioned above as part of the cast.
Nadine Olmande-Mentor is the stage manager. The set builders include Daniella Carranza, Joshua Carranza, Jean Palacio, Adriel Santiago, and Axel Brioso. In addition, Ivan Moorer, and Emmanuel Pierre are credited as stagehands.
Santiago, a 24-year-old graduate student who is working on his Master’s degree in General Psychology, is a curious person who loves the challenge of set-building.
He said it took two months to build the set, which includes a makeshift florist shop and dentist’s office.
“I’m always thrilled to learn more,” Santiago said. “Besides building the set, I’m helping out backstage with props and costumes.
“In a sense, the most important people are behind the scenes. It’s behind the magic where hyper-reality becomes reality.”