Amberley & Evelyn #ONSCENE @ Brooklyn College's 'Little Shop Of Horrors'
Isn’t feeding your blood to a plant already a gigantic red flag? Maybe don’t buy a shady plant after an eclipse, even if it only cost $1.95…..
Amberley first encountered Little Shop of Horrors when she watched the movie in her seventh grade class—hiding behind her friend as she did so. Evelyn first experienced it in third grade when she performed as Audrey—even though their Seymour ended up abandoning the show. Both were terrified of the movie’s bloodthirsty, hyper-realistic, man-eating plant, Audrey II. Now, both of them attend Brooklyn College, where the Brooklyn College Musical Theater Collective recently revived the musical. Evelyn was even part of the deck crew. Here are Amberley and Evelyn’s perspectives on the production, from in front of and behind the scenes.
AMBER: When it was time for me to go to the show, it was raining horribly. My smart self didn’t think to have an umbrella on me, so yes, I walked into the show’s building a hot mess—my hair was drenched and my clothes felt as if they were permanently stuck to my body. Gross. I spent at least 30 minutes in the bathroom drying my hair and clothes with the hand dryer that barely blew any air.
After managing to look reasonable, I waited for an hour. Doing nothing. Being bored. Walking around the hallways waiting for the show to start.
EVE: My day started off with going to call. I dressed in an all-black outfit, with a pair of black shorts on top of leggings so that it would be difficult to see me running around backstage. However, this resulted in me looking absolutely ridiculous, as if I were a Pokémon Go trainer. But whatever. Sometimes, we need pockets. When I got there, we (the deck crew) had to wait until the cast’s rehearsal and fight call ended before we could move any of the props and set pieces onto the stage.
I went around asking how everyone felt about opening night. Most of the actors I interviewed were nervous about the show, citing that family and friends were sitting in the front row, or that this was their first production in several years. One of the music directors even told me he was panicking as the house started to fill up. Personally, I wasn’t nervous, but then again I had only been part of the crew for a week, and I had a very handy cheat sheet I could always check backstage. At the same time, I was always worried that I would miss a cue. Maybe I’d accidentally place a prop in the wrong place where the actor who needed it couldn’t find it. Maybe I’d yeet a prop off the stage and past the curtain where I couldn’t reach it. Maybe I’d just forget to open the curtains. Who knows. Anything can happen.
AMBER: My favorite character was the owner of the shop, Mr. Mushnik. There is this scene in “Mushnik & Son” when he opened his mouth so wide, I was like, how is that even possible?
EVE: Really? I’ve always had a problem with Mushnik as a character and especially that song, mostly because it’s a klezmer piece tied to a sleazy character. Klezmer music is tied to Jewish culture, so tying this kind of music to a character who is essentially a Jewish stereotype isn’t good in terms of Jewish representation on stage.
AMBER: I get that for the purpose of the show, a Jewish stereotype is supposed to be funny. It’s just what you have to deal with when you have a character like this. It’s gonna happen. No matter who you put in the role it’s gonna seem... yeah.
This happened again with Orin, the psycho dentist, who was played by a black guy. I personally felt that it was kinda treading on worrisome territory. When you have a black person play an abusive character, it feels like a negative movie stereotype. The original character is not black, but that was my first thought. Oh, of course her abuser is a black guy.
But after Mushnik, Orin is my favorite character. Well not the character, the actor who played him. He’s not just double cast. He’s quadruple cast with quick changes. It’s crazy how he can be so versatile in such a short amount of time.
EVE: Even the big evil nonbinary avocado (Audrey II) also had a big change in terms of how they were portrayed.
AMBER: When I first heard that Audrey II was going to be voiced by a woman I was surprised. But as I thought about it, I realized it doesn’t really matter who plays Audrey II. As long as they are really good at portraying an evil plant, then why not? I do think it is interesting that in the original, Audrey II is voiced by a man, cause it’s a woman’s name. Casting a woman in this role when it’s usually played by men with a different vocal range was refreshing.
It’s not easy to pull viewers out of their world and into the world you are trying to show them. And if you can do that, with limited costumes and sets and money, then you have done a good job. And remember: Don’t feed the plant. Yeet it. #yeettheplant