Tech students and killer plant take stage for first musical

Recorder Staff Chris Curtis 
Sophmore Adam McConchie is consumed by a fanged plant under the unhelpful gaze of freshman chorus members Hailey Perkins McCraw, Lindsey Mailloux and Lydia Dodge, from left, and junior Mosha Eisenberg, at right, during a rehersal Monday at the Shea Theater for the Franklin County Technical School's production of Little Shop of Horrors.

Recorder Staff Chris Curtis Sophmore Adam McConchie is consumed by a fanged plant under the unhelpful gaze of freshman chorus members Hailey Perkins McCraw, Lindsey Mailloux and Lydia Dodge, from left, and junior Mosha Eisenberg, at right, during a rehersal Monday at the Shea Theater for the Franklin County Technical School's production of Little Shop of Horrors.

TURNERS FALLS — With no stage and no tradition of theater, Franklin County Technical School students and teachers are setting out into uncharted waters with the school’s first musical this week.

Although this week rehearsals have moved to the Shea Theater, space constraints have had the cast of “Little Shop of Horrors” — set in a florist’s shop and featuring a carnivorous plant with a taste for human flesh — rehearsals began in the peculiarly apt setting of the school’s landscaping and horticulture workshop.

Science teacher Daniel Prasol says the musical will be the school’s first in 37 years — the full life of the school — and is probably its first large-scale theatrical production of any kind.

Prasol said he participated in the Turners Falls High School theater program as a student and he and music teacher David Maloney had been talking about starting something at the Technical School for a couple of years.

“I decided this year, you know what? let’s just do it,” Prasol said, so the two set out with no facilities, no props, no budget and no student theater population to draw on.

Prasol said he and Maloney settled on “Little Shop of Horrors” for its relatively small cast and reputation as a good starter musical, and auditions in December drew nearly enough students. With nine roles and eight students, Prasol will fill one role.

With no stage, the cast began rehearsing in the landscaping shop and moved to the school’s multi-purpose conference room once the winter sports season ended and the wrestling team moved out.

For the final production, they have rented the Shea Theater on Avenue A and began rehearsing in the new space and with the newly arrived props this week.

Prasol thanks Nick Waynelovich of the Ja’Duke Scene Shop for his help in accommodating their shoestring budget.

Last week, the cast was still in the conference room, and Prasol admitted between shouted reminders to watch the timing that the stress level was a little high.

The music is recorded so there is no room for error; if a singer misses a cue there will be no accommodation from a sympathetic conductor.

Mosha Eisenberg of South Deerfield, a junior in the IT program and the musical’s male lead, cites this as the most difficult aspect of the production.

Eisenberg and Ashton Morse, the female lead, both express confidence that the time they have put in with daily practices since January will pay off.

Ashton has the benefit of previous musical experience with local theater group Ja’Duke Productions and recitals with Maloney’s class, Eisenberg said he likes to sing but has never performed. “I listen to musicals for fun ... so when the chance to be in the play came up, I said ‘why not?’” Eisenberg said.

Over the course of rehearsals he moved from four bit parts to the protagonist, Seymour the unfortunate flower shop employee.

Under Maloney’s tutelage those students who couldn’t sing when the production began can now, Prasol said, and by Monday practice is going well in the new location.

“These kids have put so much time and effort into this that if anything goes wrong, it’s on me, not them,” he said.

The show begins Friday at 7 p.m. in the Shea Theater, 71 Avenue A, with the second and final showing Saturday at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors. Tickets may be purchased at the door or reserved by calling 413-863-9561 ext. 233

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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