By Dan Rankin
Chaos came gradually into order at the insistence of longtime SHDHS drama teacher Mary Beth Jantzi in the school’s big gym Wednesday evening as the cast and crew of the upcoming production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” set up for a rehearsal. After over five months of work, the musical hits the stage two weeks from now and runs for three 7:30 pm performances May 26- 28. Tickets are $10 and are available now from SHDHS and Hansen’s.
Wednesday, they were working on a climactic scene between Ethan Keyes, who stars as flower shop worker Seymour, and Rebekah Pfaff, who portrays Seymour’s love interest Audrey. Noticeably missing from the stage however was Audrey II, the show’s famous man-eating plant, which by the scene in question has grown quite massive indeed. Several props representing the devious flora as it grows in size throughout the show are in various stages of development, including one almost the size of a Volkswagen Beetle that will be capable of swallowing actors whole.
“The Puppet of Audrey II is definitely the biggest challenge of the show,” said Jantzi, the show’s director/producer. “It’s really fun and really cool, and we’re all really excited about it, but it’s definitely the biggest challenge.”
Including the cast and crew, about 40 people are involved with the production, including SHDHS staff members Isaac Moore, who will serve as band leader and music director Kate Milner.
Jantzi said this show will be her “swan song,” as this will be her final year at the school. In the 25 years she’s been at the school she said they have tried to put on a show regularly at a rate of once every year, or every other year. “In my experience it’s only the last few years we’ve done musicals though, and only because I’ve got a great team at the school to help out,” she said.
“It’s really coming together now,” said Keyes, 18. “It’s eye opening that people in the cast from age 13 to 23 can all connect and put on an amazing show – based around some ridiculous things like a giant plant taking over the world – but seeing them all come together was really nice.”
Keyes has been involved in drama since he was in Grade 4, when he attended Lester B. Pearson School for the Arts in London. But then it was mainly Shakespeare; musicals are a newer challenge for him.
“At Lester B. Pearson I did singing, dancing, violin, piano. You get to see what you want to do in the arts, and I really love theatre,” he said. “I like to sing, but it wasn’t fully where I wanted to go. Musicals are like the best of both worlds in the sense I was able to not only act but sing, and put both of those passions together.”
In October, Keyes played Ambrose Kemper in “Hello, Dolly!” at The Grand Theatre. He has also recently been accepted to York University’s Theatre program, but he’s not sure if he’ll head straight into further studies. “I might take the year off and make some money getting work experience in theatre, get an agent, go to Toronto and explore that avenue,” he said. “I’m not sure yet.”
In the meantime, Keyes can’t wait for the curtain to raise on SHDHS’s “Little Shop of Horrors.”
“I’ve had other friends do this show and I’ve seen their productions,” he said. “I’ve been excited to do my version, of what I think Seymour is and what I want to bring to ‘Little Shop of Horrors.’ I’m so excited for the end of May because I’ll get to show what I’m capable of and what we’ve all been working so hard for.”