Photos by Alen Fetahi
According to director John Wells, the high school spring production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” a musical with student actors from grades 9-12, is “a dawn of a new era for performing arts at Saugerties High School.”
The show is darkly comedic, featuring a giant plant known as Audrey II who craves human flesh, a group of street urchin singers on Skid Row, and as sophomore Danny Caffrey, the understudy for the role of Seymour puts it, “a psychotic dentist. Everyone loves that.”
Wells, who also teaches English, chose the play because it was one of his favorite shows growing up. He is not the only one involved in the production who has always been a fan. Senior Victoria DiViesti calls Audrey, the female lead, a “dream role.” DiViesti has previously showcased her singing abilities at the high school cabaret and lip sync competitions, but never before in a full-scale theatrical production.
Until this spring, only seniors were allowed to participate in the annual plays. Wells felt that this limited the sorts of shows he could choose, as well as his ability to work with students through the years to help hone their talent. He says when he was a teenager, “I found my voice through theatre and performance art,” and by providing the chance for younger students to participate in the productions, he was extending to them the same opportunity.
Students like sophomore Kelsey Gaulin, who provides the voice for the Audrey II plant, are excited to have the ability to participate in the performances for the remainder of their high school career. She hopes the novelty of having students from each grade level will encourage people to come out and see the shows. “Why would you not want to be able to say you were there, at the first 9-12 play?”
Gaulin says she has learned from the experience, including how to work with others. She says the cast has grown so close they feel like family.
The students have been rehearsing since January, but they only recently got access to the stage because of other performances, such as the junior high play and the lip sync competition. The sets were built by Wells, who also designs the costumes and lighting for the productions he directs. They went up last week, though they had to be taken down again for the long-awaited installation of the new stage curtains. Wells also built the giant Audrey II puppet that will take center stage.
The play will be performed at the high school on Friday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 5 at 2 and 7:30 p.m.