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Feed me

Cassie Pence

VAIL – What happens when a hybrid Venus fly trap develops a nasty craving for human blood and world domination? A funny and unique tale of boy meets girl and plant eats world.Vail Mountain School will present the Broadway musical “Little Shop of Horrors” tonight at 7. The production, which opened Friday, takes place in the school’s new state-of-the-art theater, which is stacked with all the bells and whistles you would expect of a professional stage. But mobile voice mics and great acoustics, not to mention the stadium seating, aren’t the only high-caliber elements involved in the show. You should meet the cast.

Seymour (freshman Jackson Dowell), a submissive, wimpy man, discovers an exotic plant (voice played by senior Patrick Scanlan) while working at a flower shop on skid row. Audrey (senior Lia Zneimer), his Marilyn Monroe-esque coworker, gets the bright idea that such an unusual plant might attract business in the struggling shop. She’s right, and Seymour caters to keep the plant to keep it alive and owner Mr. Mushnick’s (played by junior Drew Riley) business booming, even if it means feeding the plant his own, or other people’s, blood. With each red, delicious meal, the plant grows larger and larger and so does Seymour’s love for Audrey, whose abusive dentist boyfriend (played by Jack McRory) brings a whole new comical element into the story. And so the conflict evolves, a love story and a man’s fight to save the world from a power-hungry plant.”This is a hard show to do. It’s very technical. The puppetry, there are a lot of props, a lot of pitfalls for the students,” said Don Watson, director of the production. Watson is Vail Mountain School’s resident artist; he teaches the theater elective. He is also a professional musician, traveling around the world with his music, and he has a resident gig at the Sonnenalp five days a week.

He picked the show because of the challenge, and it seemed to fit the talent he knew he had among the students.For Zneimer, who speaks Audrey’s baby-doll voice perfectly, “Little Shop of Horrors” has extra special meaning. She saw it for the first time at Vail Mountain School when she was in kindergarten. A lover of drama, it’s a treat for her to now lead in the production. “Musical theater is my passion. It teaches you more about who you are, ironically, because you’re playing other people. But each character is a different aspect of yourself,” Zneimer said.

Zneimer said she doesn’t have much in common with the boyfriend-needing, ditsy Audrey, expect they both like to wear really high shoes.The plant, endearingly named Audrey II by Seymour, as it grows and grows, can’t help but steal the show. It was borrowed from a place in Fort Collins, and it resembles something Jim Henson might have created. At one point during the show, two students are needed to run its creeping vines and gaping mouth. Scanlan developed the plant’s voice.”It’s a mixture between Barry White and Issac Hayes. He’s an urban ladies man, as far as plants go,” Scanlan said.Dave Laub, music teacher, leads the production’s songs with a full band, adding to the show’s professionalism, as does Todd Howe of THD Productions, a local sound guru who is heading up the audible department.

“The show was written in 1983, so the music is really cool. It’s music of my childhood. There’s also some funk and ’50s in there too. It’s not your typical show music,” said Laub. “Little Shop of Horrors” starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Vail Mountain School. For more information, call (970) 476-3850.Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 618, or cpence@vaildaily.comVail Colorado

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