Old Rochester’s ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ shows new side of drama club

Mar 19, 2024

MATTAPOISETT – There’s more to musical theater than princes, Shakespeare and helpless ingénues. It can be dark, fun and can make difficult topics more accessible for audiences of all ages.

With Old Rochester Regional High School Drama Club’s upcoming production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” director Maxx Domingos hopes the arts can be a way to approach heavier topics while still putting on an entertaining show.

According to Domingos, “Little Shop of Horrors” is a “realistic show that has some supernatural [and] scientific parts of it. It follows the life of people who are down on their luck in skid row and the tumultuous things that happen to them.”

The show follows amateur botanist Seymour Krelborn (Jay Carrillo) who works in a failing flower shop run by Mr. Mushnik (Aidan Silk). Seymour, who is trying to create a plant that can save the business, works alongside love interest and floral designer Audrey (Mackenzye Caton), who is dating abusive boyfriend Orin Scrivello, DDS. (Jackson Veugen). Seymour’s salvation falls to Earth in the form of a man-eating plant (voiced by Emerson Roy).

According to Domingos, this show is a way to address difficult topics in “a way that is informative but also safe,” she said.

For Caton, 17, who plays the “mellow and shy” Audrey, this show will give audiences a different perspective on the Old Rochester Drama Club.

“I want people to see a different side of our theater,” she said. “We don’t just have to do cute, light-hearted things. We can do [shows] that give us a different perspective on things. There are people out there who … have lives like this.”

According to Caton, her character “had no one to look up to. Men with a lot of power and control often gave her a hand, and their motives were not good.”

“They’re talking about [an] abusive relationship … but in a way that isn’t overwhelming,” said Domingos. “It’s fictional but they do bring up a lot of topics that are kind of heavy but that [the cast] are exposed to in their daily lives.”

“When you see [these issues] on stage, you can talk about it in a way that doesn’t feel so personal,” continued Domingos. “It’s so important to have things like this that are ways to start conversations or address these kinds of topics in a way that doesn’t feel as confrontational or personal.”

Getting into the role of an abusive boyfriend was difficult for Veugen, 17, who plays the “sociopathic or psychopathic” Orin.

“Surprise, surprise, I’m not really the abusive, sociopathic dentist type,” he said. “It was hard to get the anger for the role and to know how to be a macho guy.”

But Veugen credits trial and error, supportive parents and encouraging castmates for helping him find his character.

Another actor who had to work hard for her character was Roy, 16, who voices the man-eating alien plant Audrey II.

In this production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” Audrey II is represented on stage by four puppets that range from handheld to room-sized. Roy lends her voice to the plant using an offstage microphone.

“It’s definitely hard, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” she said. “You have to put so much emotion into it without actually being on stage.”

The role of Audrey II is normally played by lower-voiced male singers.

“I wanted to show that a female could play this part and I think the preparation was mostly mental, because I had to be confident with myself,” she said.

Roy is “phenomenal,” said Carrillo, 17, who is playing the botanist Seymour Krelborn.

“Everyone here is so talented,” he said. “I’m just so excited to be putting on this play with them.”

Carrillo added that he hopes the audience goes home “having enjoyed their experience. I hope that people think that we did a good job. Because I genuinely think we have worked super hard on [this].”

See “Little Shop of Horrors” at Old Rochester Regional High School on March 21, 22 and 23 at 7 p.m., and March 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for students and senior citizens and $15 general admission. Tickets can be purchased at the Marion General Store, Isabelle’s in Mattapoisett, Friends’ Marketplace in Rochester or at the door for all performances. Tickets can also be purchased online at bit.ly/ORRDrama-LittleShop-2024.