Posted by Gwendolyn Plummer
When I was about twelve years old, my best friend's mom sat her and me down on the couch after school and told us she had found an old VHS in the basement. It was one of her favorite movies, and she was adamant that her daughter and I watch it immediately. So, we got comfortable on the couch with snacks and blankets as her mother popped in a VHS of Little Shop of Horrors.
Since that day, Little Shop has been one of my absolute favorite films. My best friend and I watched it at least twice a month and we used to walk around singing the songs to each other when we had nothing else to do. As expected, when I found out that this semester's big Cabaret Troupe production was going to be Little Shop, I was overwhelmed with excitement. I practically planned my entire weekend around attending the show and warned all of my friends beforehand that I would be singing along the entire time. I sat down in my seat in Filene excited and a little bit dubious - would a school, student-run production of one of my favorite movies live up to my ridiculously high expectations? As it turned out, I was in for a surprise.
Firstly, I was unaware how fundamentally different the musical actually is from the movie. The endings are completely different. In the movie adaptation, Seymour saves the day, allowing him and Audrey to live happily ever after "somewhere that's green," and as the camera pans out, a little Audrey II is seen growing ominously in their front garden. However, in the musical, Seymour is too late - Audrey dies, Seymour has to feed her to the plant, and eventually he gets eaten as well. Although this ending shocked me, it didn't upset me as much as it might have. After doing some research I learned that the original ending of the movie was the same as the musical, but it had to be changed after test audiences were displeased with the unhappy ending.
Aside from my initial shock over the ending, it took me until about halfway through the first act to warm up to the play, although that was due to my own bias and not a reflection on the production itself. Having seen the film countless times, I was expecting the musical to be exactly the same. Obviously, that expectation was not met - yet in the best way possible.
At first, I was a little uncomfortable with the differences between the movie and the musical. But halfway through the first act, right around Cody Webber's big number as the sadistic dentist, I found myself smiling, laughing and singing along, completely immersed in this production that I had originally tried to resist. What had first made me uncomfortable about the production was the fact that the characters were not exactly the same characters I was used to seeing on the TV and I was having a hard time seeing them in that way. It took me some time, but I soon came to realize how well cast the production really was. In particular, Mark Thurner was practically a flawless Seymour. He was a perfect combination of wonderfully awkward and self-effacing, truly capturing the essence of the self-conscious but hopeful young man who suddenly finds himself thrust into money, fame and moral degradation. I felt that his portrayal of Seymour was the most on-point and in-depth of any. He truly was the star of the show. Cody Webber was also absolutely hilarious and somewhat frightening as Orin the dentist. He and Mark seemed to be impeccably cast in my opinion.
The production itself was completely hysterical, even funnier live than the actual movie, with some important moments of sincerity and seriousness. The pit orchestra (which was all freshmen) was extremely remarkable. For something entirely student run and student directed, Little Shop of Horrors was massively impressive, as most Cabaret Troupe productions are.
Although I went into Little Shop of Horrors with certain prejudices and expectations, the production exceeded all of my preconceived notions and blew my prejudices out of the water. The show reminded me of why I love Little Shop of Horrors so much and simultaneously showed me why a live production can have so much more life than a film.