NEW CASTLE — (Video player appears at the bottom of this story.)
There’s nothing small at all about Union High School’s version of “Little Shop of Horrors.”
Cast members travel through a cavalcade of blood and murder interspersed with songs. For extra measure, throw in a kiss and a drag queen.
Yes, this is a musical and while the cast may be small, it just goes to show that this group is capable of reproducing a larger-than-life adaptation.
It is, after all, a quirky spoof of a place where anything can happen — and does.
And Union has put a new spin on the movie version while also packing 16 songs into the two-act show.
A quirky spoof of 1950s sci-fi flicks, the plot revolves around a down-and-out, skid-row floral assistant who raises a plant that feeds on human blood. Before long, “Audrey II” grows into an ill-tempered, foul-mouthed, R&B-singing carnivore who offers him fame and fortune in exchange for feeding its growing appetite and finally revealing itself to be an alien creature poised for global domination.
The major players also bring their own personalities to the musical to bring the characters to life.
While junior Dan Fusco has no particular affinity to floral shops, he does have a kinship with the main character.
“Seymour is exactly who I am,” Fusco said — “a dork and clumsy.”
But he is totally confident of his performing skills and is a man of music. Fusco writes and produces his own songs. This time, though, he gets to perform 13 of the 16 in the show, which includes the title song, “Suddenly, Seymour,” and “Git It.”
The music is the style of early 1960s rock and roll, doo-wop and early Motown, and that is also a match with Fusco, who likes pop and R&B including Beyonce and Boyz II Men.
As Audrey I, junior Kristina Riggans had to learn a Long Island accent. The supporting female lead, who is in 11 songs, obtained her musical talent from her grandfather and inherited his guitar after he recently passed away.
Fusco and Riggans are good friends who two weeks before the show had yet to practice what both believed would be an awkward moment — a stage kiss.
“I’m preparing myself for it,” Riggans grinned.
Mitch Minteer said he isn’t even going to try to emulate the role Steve Martin had as the sadistic dentist, Orin Scrivello, in the film adaptation.
“I’m giving it my own twist,” Minteer said, adding that like Martin, though, he plays banjo and has learned drums and guitar.
He prefers acting to singing but is in three numbers. He’s played the parts of a priest, a butler and Buffalo Bill Cody in previous musicals and “now I get to play a crazed dentist.”
Cue the versatility factor for a chance for the senior to get glitzed up in makeup, a dress and heels to play a woman. With a simple creative twist, the part of Patrick Martin was changed to Patricia Martin.
Minteer, who has his own dry sense of humor noted, “It’s very comical dancing around Dan as I die a slow death.”
MUSIC, THE MACABRE
Senior Nicole Young is Ronette and enjoys the role because she gets to be sassy, spunky and have attitude.
Young, whose father was with a gospel group, has always liked performing but is especially drawn to dancing.
She occupies the stage almost the whole time along with her two cohorts, Chiffon and Crystal. The latter is played by freshman Amanda Carbone who also likes that her role is a sassy one and “an easy fit and a chance to be somebody I’m not.”
The trio of street urchins comment on the action throughout the show.
Fusco, Riggans, Minteer and Young have worked together in previous musicals, which is one reason this is a close-knit cast.
Truly, egos have been set aside.
“We’re like family,” Young pointed out as Riggans noted musicals are how she made friends when she was younger.
“She was my first musical friend,” Riggans said, pointing to Young.
The director is teacher and Union graduate Diana Borowski.
“These kids never fail to amaze me,” Borowski said. “No matter what challenge I throw their way, they meet the challenges beyond my expectations.”
She also encourages the public to support the shows done by local high schools in order to continue providing students with a quality arts education.
“Without public support, shows such as the spring musicals may not survive.”
So, “Little Shop of Horrors” is charming, tuneful and hilarious with rapid-fire dialect.
There’s just one thing — the conclusion is different from the film.
Despite gore, blood, the end result plants a whole lot of fun on the audience in a homicidal, manic sort of way.
After all, horror is in the title.
Videographer Ashley Hautala presents highlights
from Union's spring musical, "Little Shop of Horrors."
Cast of Characters ...
Megan Lawlor: Chiffon
Amanda Carbone: Crystal
Nicole Young: Ronnette
Jason Salamon: Mr. Mushnik
Kristina Riggans: Audrey
Daniel Fusco: Seymour Krelborn
Mitch Minteer: Orin Scrivello, DDS and others
Cody Bixler: Voice of Audrey II
Danny Zoltani: Audrey II puppeteer
Katie Clark: Interviewer/Bernstein
Janis McGill: Narrator, Mrs. Luce
Casey Brophey: Customer
Danielle Shoaff: Wino
Derelicts, Customers, Ensemble: Erika Burk, Madison Conti, Amanda Cyrus, Elizabeth Fortney, Sarah Hosie, Ben Junkin, Sarah Mentzer, Nicole Price, Kirstyn Quinn, Ana Truby, Christina Warren
Dancers: Kayla Baker, Casey Brophy, Olivia Faraone, Amanda Harding, Destany Noris, Justice Snyder, Molly Trodden
Stage crew: Abbie Keller, Robbie Kotoff, Emily Kwolek, Amber Mangelli, Ryan Niglio, Annie Shuler, Danny Zoltaini
Ushers: Tairy Benincase, Darren Heaberlin, Victoria Hilke, Clarence Parchman, Sarah Stasko, Malik Williams.