Local Talent Brings “Little Shop” to the Stage

LaPlata County residents have grown accustomed to seeing some pretty amazing transformations turned in by the talented students who have graced the stage at the Bayfield Performing Arts Center in the decade that it has existed, but Bayfield High School may be taking theatre-goers to a new level this spring when they ask a man-eating plant to share the spotlight with her musical co-stars.

The high school theatre club, under the guidance of Director Claire Angeline Harvey and Musical Director Derek Smith, will be performing “Little Shop of Horrors” — the 80’s off-Broadway musical created by composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman, the team best known for their work with Disney Animation Studios. The musical was the inspiration for the 1986 film directed by Frank Oz and starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Steve Martin, Jim Belushi, Bill Murray and John Candy - to name just a few.

Fortunately, there is more than enough talent in this year’s crop of thespians at BHS to handle the sprawling cast, and plenty of crew members to do the behind-the-scenes work that will be required for this year’s production.

“We have many new faces in our theater club this semester and I'm glad we could support them in putting on this show,” Harvey said. “I’m so impressed and proud of the teamwork and creativity the cast and crew are showing in the rehearsal process as it takes a lot of work, but we know that it will pay off soon for memorable performances.”

Those performances will take place at 7 p.m. at the PAC on four dates in April. The curtain will rise on Thursday, April 4, and Friday, April 5, and the theatre club will close out the production the following weekend with shows on Friday, April 12, and Saturday, April 13.

There are 15 cast members and 9 members of the crew working on this year’s show, which is also being brought to life by Technical Director Michael Suazo.

“Mr. Suazo is one of BHS's amazing paraprofessionals, and he is an incredible educator!” Smith described.

The cast is led by a trio of seniors — Claire Sarnow, Brad Foutz and soon-to-be valedictorian Lillyan (Charlee) O’Hair. They will be joined on stage by Bella Acebedo, Kylie Beeman, Tristan Bennet, Meegan Burrows, Calin Campbell, Sandy Guich, Mya Miller, Kiera Parsons, Parker Perkerewicz, Jeremy Reynolds and Elliot Willie.

“My favorite aspect of this production in particular is watching the students take a musical they know well and make it their own,” Harvey said. “Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene are iconic for their roles as Seymour and Audrey, but you haven't seen the fantastic and original performances of Tristan Bennet or Claire Sarnow as the same characters.”

The cast will be supported by a full crew backstage thanks to the efforts of Lily Chavez, Izak Donelan, Hudson Gerrits, Owen Murphy, Alexis Nawrocki, Teagan Schleeter, Kamala Smith, Aiden Ulshafer, and Aspen Vocke.

Next month’s performance will follow up on the theatre club’s successful fall production of the 1950’s classic, “The Glass Slipper,” which was very well received, according to Smith, who has been the musical director for all of the musicals performed at BHS over the past 14 seasons.

We put on two plays each year, including a "regular' play in the fall, and a musical in the spring. In the past, we have done The Wizard of Oz (2023), The Dream on Royal Street (2022), Bright Star (2020), and Matilda (2019),” Smith said.

This will be Harvey's third musical production on the stage of the Performing Arts Center, and overall it is the sixth play she has directed in three years.

We are so excited about the prospect of really filling the auditorium for this production. It is special for the students because this is the show they wanted to put on,” Harvey reported. “Initially, this is a show I didn't know well, except that it was written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken and was a very iconic movie. Now that I know the show better, it's easy to see why it's remained a cult favorite since it came out in 1982.”

“Little Shop of Horrors” appeals to all generations and is a familiar story, but organizers of Bayfield’s upcoming adaptation have vowed to keep one big surprise in store for the people who attend one of the four April shows.

“We are keeping the plant under wraps!” Smith exclaimed. “Nobody gets advance pictures of Audrey II!”

Fortunately, it has never been easier to acquire tickets for a performance at the Bayfield Performing Arts Center because “Little Shop of Horrors,” marks the first time the school has been able to offer online presale of tickets. You can click on BHS Spring Musical to get your tickets now and lock down your seats for your first choice of dates, or you can pick them up at the door on the night of the show.

The doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the action will begin promptly at 7:00 p.m. for each of the shows. General admission tickets are $12, and staff, students and senior tickets are being sold for a discounted price of $10. Children under 5 can attend the show for free.