As the audience settled into their seats, the cast took their places; as the bright lights dimmed, the red curtain traveled open; and as the COVID-19 pandemic began, these once common indicators of a show about to begin on the stage of Sycamore High School came to a halt.
Now, over one year later, students at SHS are excited for their return to the stage in Little Shop of Horrors — the first in-person, local production since COVID-19 closed schools, businesses, and in-person social interaction. Director Sue Price Johnson said, “we knew the students needed this. I needed this. We all wanted a little bit of normal back!
As health guidance changed and Sycamore Community School District 427 worked to bring students back in-person safely, administrators allowed activities to occur as well, including the musical.
Junior Garrett Harms, who plays Seymour Krelborn, was excited to get started. “When I found out SHS was doing a live, in-person musical this year, I was super excited because we were going to be able to perform on stage and in front of an audience,” said Harms.
Little Shop of Horrors tells the story of Seymour Krelborn — a meek and dejected floral shop assistant who happens upon a strange plant, which he affectionately names “Audrey II” after his crush at the shop. Little does Krelborn know that this strange and unusual plant will develop a soulful R&B voice, a potty mouth, and an unquenchable thirst for human blood. As Audrey II grows bigger and meaner, the carnivorous plant promises limitless fame and fortune to Seymour, as long as he continues providing a fresh supply of blood. Just when it’s too late, Seymour discovers Audrey II’s extra-terrestrial origins and its true drive for world-domination.
Aside from the actors wearing face coverings — and the audience required to as well — this production will be just like any you have come to expect from SHS, complete with a full set, costumes, lights, and pit orchestra. This hasn’t been without challenges.
Before each rehearsal, students complete a self-certification process and temperature check, and physical contact is limited during rehearsal. “There are no hugs or kisses, which affected Audrey and Seymour because they fall in love during the show,” said Johnson.
Further, music is the very nature of any musical, and as Senior Matthew Sharp, Orin Scrivello in the show, explained, that has been the hardest part. “We had to find a room where [we] can sit at least six feet apart [from each other] and [make] sure we can still hear each other through the masks,” said Sharp. This was challenging, perhaps, but Harms explained that it has been a growth experience as well. “[We] have to enunciate [our] words a lot better, and add a lot more physical acting to the performance due to the lack of any visible facial expressions,” said Harms.
Regardless of the challenges, everyone involved is happy to be performing once again. Sharp said, “I’m just glad to be back on stage. And it has brought me closer to something I’ve loved since middle school.”
The SHS production of Little Shop of Horrors opens on Thursday, May 6, 2021, at 7:00 PM, with additional shows on Friday, May 7, 2021, at 7:00 PM, and Saturday, May 8, 2021, at 2:00 PM.
Watch in-person or online! In-person tickets are available at www.SycamoreTickets.org. Due to limited seating, all ticket sales must be made online, or by calling (815) 899-8160 x2173, in advance of the show. There will be no in-person sales at the door. Stream codes for watching the show online can be purchased by visiting www.SpartanTV.org.