NVCC’s music, dance, and theater students performed sci-fi cult classic, Little Shop of Horrors to a packed house on the nights of November 16-17 and during a special matinee performance on November 18.
The musical, dates back to a 1960s sci-fi “B-Movie” directed by Roger Corman. It was adapted as an off-Broadway musical in 1982 and made into the 1986 feature film starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greeene, Bill Murray, and Steve Martin. NVCC’s production relied heavily on sophisticated choreography, songs sang in five-part harmony, and puppetry for the plants. The intensive collaboration across many of the College’s Visual and Performing Arts programs made the show come to life.
NVCC Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D. was among one of the enthusiastic audience members on its debut weekend, “It was powerful! The acting, dancing, and music demonstrated a terrific collaboration in the arts.”
Dr. Gil Harel, musical director for the production and an Assistant Professor of Music at NVCC, explained that the show got off to a rocky start as an unexpected campus-wide power-outage in early September threatened to disturb the first few days of rehearsals, but to Harel’s delight, the cast found a temporary rehearsal space in Founders Hall, a building that was unaffected by the outage. Every cast member was present during those formative days and intent to get the show on the road. Between auditions and the performance dates in November, there were only ten weeks to get everything rehearsed and in place.
NVCC student, Gerald Mullings who played the role of Seymour said, “I can honestly say that little shop has been one of the most ‘strange and interesting’ experiences for me at Naugatuck Valley. I enjoyed the process and I am 95% sure it’s my favorite show that I have been a part of here at NVCC. Extra big thanks to Gil for always being there for literally anything we needed help with and Sasha for making sure that we were present throughout the whole process. It is greatly appreciated.”
“One of my favorite memories from Little Shop had to have been figuring out the quick change that came before ‘Meek Shall Inherit.’ Although it was stressful to get through, using teamwork to get through it and thinking off the top of our heads made it so much fun and enjoyable,” said NVCC student Teagan Gavin who performed the role of Crystal.
The cast of the show was comprised of 16 members, three of whom were puppeteers. Harel led a pit orchestra made up of three NVCC students on the guitar, drums, and auxiliary percussion and two professional musicians on keyboards and bass. Last year’s performance was 2008 American rock musical Next to Normal, an award-winning drama dealing with the important, but heavy topics of mental illness, grief, and the disenchantment of suburban life. Harel and Assistant Professor of Theater, Alexander, “Sasha” Bratt, said they chose Little Shop of Horrors for this year’s production as it provided a balance in mood with its campy, funny, and charismatic roles. Not only that, but both absolutely loved the music. Aguibo Bougobali Sanou, NVCC’s fourth Fulbright scholar-in-residence, choreographed various scenes in a way that cast members found gratifyingly challenging. Sanou’s choreography, especially on the song, “Skid Row,” was dazzling to take in with a lot of motion and various characters on stage.
“The holy grail of art is when you can create something beautiful and have a great time doing it,” said Harel. “This feeling was palpable from cast and crew throughout our ten weeks together. The symbiotic coming together of dance, music, acting, and the pit orchestra musicians was the most embedded spirit of collaboration I’ve ever seen in any production.”