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Fired up for "Little Shop of Horrors" in Gypsum

Gart Garton
Little Shop of Horrors
Vail, CO Colorado

We’re in “Hell Week” already! That’s what thespians call the final days leading up to the performance. It’s hellacious in that we move to the actual stage we’ll be performing on and so have to adjust blocking (stage movement) for the bigger space and curtains and precipitous drop offs. We also will be rehearsing for the first time with lights and sound, meaning the engineers in charge of each will be interrupting us every few minutes to tweak something; extremely important, but the actors are now getting very nervous and want as much time to work on their challenges as is humanly possible with every available minute of the day. Challenges like learning lines. You’d think that we’d have everything down pat by now, and that memorizing the script would be among the first order of things to do while rehearsing for a play, and you’d be right on both counts. It’s just that, during Hell Week, everything invariably goes awry and the most seasoned actor starts to lose composure and replaces that void with loads of self-doubt. It’s hysterical. For every show I’ve been in, there’s a moment about 2-3 days before our first performance that I truly believe we’ve really blown it this time, and there’s no way to pull it off. What happens then is an adrenaline fueled, supremely cooperative, herculean effort by the entire cast and crew: people start skipping work, forgoing sleep, pitching in huge amounts of time and muscle, and expanding the scope of concentration outside the individual. Everyone comes to everyone else’s aid, and it ends up being an amazing feat of teamwork that bonds the whole group as a family. This typically is all apparent on opening night.

There’s my optimistic view of this whole thing. But now, we’re all scared crapless (I know, but this is a PG paper), and I think that’s good.

I promised you last week I’d discuss the principal actors in the show. Larry Dutmer plays Mushnik, owner of The Little Shop of Flowers. A funnier Jewish patriarch you haven’t seen since Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof”. Larry, who is often behind the scenes or down in the pit playing rocking drums for the band, really nails this role…he should be up front more often. Nicole Whitaker, director of sales at the Manor Vail, is a whirling dervish of energy offstage but somehow channels that in the opposite direction to bring poise and innocence to the role of Audrey. She’s a cute little heroine with a great lilting New York accent. Our hero, Seymour Krelborn, is played to the hilt by Kris Keyes. Kris is onstage almost the entire play, has twice as many lines as everyone else, and somehow manages to be the principal stage construction manager and chief bottle washer of Porchlight Players. Pullling all this off while bringing supreme camp and nerdiness to Seymour is no mean feat.



I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our director, Ann Olin. Ann’s a 3rd grade teacher at Brush Creek Elementary and founder of Porchlight Players. Talk about a full schedule! If she’s not teaching 25 kids, planning the next day’s lesson, or grading homework, she’s working out solutions to the myriad obstacles and challenges inherent in a show of this magnitude while also directing rehearsals. Her poor husband Randy becomes a widower during this hectic time of production. And last, but certainly not least, is our musical director Dawn Poff. Dawn’s a genius at extracting a fantastic score from an extremely meager music book. The required music is thinly written and she’s had to come up with most of it extemporaneously. The result is a swingin’ soundtrack that will rock the rafters.

Everyone is fired up to bring this wonderful musical to you. So mark your calendars and head over to Eagle Valley High School after World Cup to round out your entertainment with some culture (or should I say, “Horticulture”?). This show is really a rocking kick in the pants (or should I say, “Plants”?). See you there, I promise you won’t be sorry (or should I say, “Seymour”?). Ok, enough of that. I’m outta here.


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