Audience Wooed by Little Shop of Horrors
Bolton School Drama

Over three nights in March, a cast of Senior School pupils from Bolton School Boys’ and Girls’ Divisions delivered a stunning performance of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s Little Shop of Horrors.

Rehearsing over a period of six months, including five Sundays, the cast perfected their interpretation of this innovative take on the Faust legend. Miss Talbot, Director of Theatre Studies in the Girls’ Division, said: ‘They have been inquisitive – “does Seymour buy a new coat or does he take the dentist’s?” – and endlessly imaginative; “on my way back to Skid Row, I rat on my mate who cheated at poker”. They have taken risks and problem solved, building character at every turn. None of this would have been possible without the support of highly talented and committed professionals. We would like to thank all who played in the band. We were grateful to Mark Beaumont from North West Theatre Arts Company for lending and installing the set and puppets. We were indebted to two wonderful technicians Mr Kyle and Mr Deakin. Little Shop of Horrors will be Mr Kyle’s last senior production at Bolton School. We will miss him very much.’

You can view a gallery of photos and below, Tilly Watkinson, a Year 12 student, reviews the show in an article written for The View, Bolton School Girls’ Division’s newspaper:

‘This year’s Bolton School musical was Little Shop of Horrors. Upon hearing this news and being completely unfamiliar with the production, I decided to do some of my own research as well as learn details from word of mouth. The plot consists of ambitious florist, Seymour, who is oblivious when buying a blood thirsty plant which grants his life’s wishes only when it is fed. When looking at images of past productions, my curiosity grew regarding how they would transform the theatre stage into a plant shop lining unpleasant Skid Row. Another detail to consider, was how the production team planned to create and place a large Venus flytrap within the set, and how this would be controlled to really sell a talking plant to the audience.

My questions started to be answered, when I had the opportunity to visit a Wednesday evening rehearsal. By this point, the stage was bare, students were not in costume and technicalities were still being decided. This gave me the chance to speak to various students to understand their personal experience of rehearsals, and their opinions on the chosen musical. When speaking to the voice of the plant, Sam Entwistle, and one of the plant puppeteers, Noah Meadows, I learnt they must work hand in hand in order to bring an element of magic to the stage.

Noah, described how he must sit within the plant during long scenes, relying on a water pouch with a straw, alongside driving gloves to ease the challenges of managing the heavy puppet. This means voice actor, Year 12 student Sam, must be placed in a blind spot to the audience, but somewhere he can clearly view the plant. It may initially appear that these features present a formidable challenge, however overcoming them would bring great reward for both the audience and I am certain a feeling of contentment for the actors and staff. A Year 9 student I was able to interview was Thomas Sibley, who talked highly of his time on stage with the older years and students from the separate Divisions and described the play itself as “brilliant”. 

On the opening night, I seized the chance to arrive an hour early to have access to behind-the-scenes excitement. This is when I learnt that a live band would be playing during the musical, however, not on the stage, but directly beneath it! In the theatre’s green room there was quite an extraordinary set up of instruments in a semi circle, facing towards a monitor which depicted the live footage of the stage. This was so the band, made up of previous and existing music teachers, could receive their cues and play the live instrumentals for the students to accompany. This sighting made me appreciate the music much more as an audience member. Once I had took my seat and anticipated the show to begin, I was overwhelmed by the intricate stage set displayed once the curtains first drew. With the complementing stage lanterns, rigged by the theatre technician, Mr Kyle, a warm and welcoming atmosphere was created.

The show was led by Year 13 student Elliot Rigby playing Seymour, who enticed the audience with his powerful and captivating voice.

Alongside was Year 13 student Nathalie Rippingdale playing Aubrey, who truly showcased angelic vocals bursting with emotion. I felt as though her singing really evoked pity from the audience for her unfortunate life circumstances.

I would also like to give a special mention to Mr Mushnik played by Tanmay Gokul, who really embodied a miserable and manipulative old man and delivered the audience many laughs. Also, Theo Jones who played the dentist and brought this character to life with such authenticity, that it was difficult to distinguish him from the role he was portraying. Truly impressive.

To the end of the show, the deceased characters, fallen to the mighty plant, graced the aisles by handing out green glow sticks to the audience. This interaction allowed the audience to join in for the final song and have some fun. The warning for loud noises was not lost, when two large canons erupted green confetti at the end, making me jump right out of my seat!

Of course, mentioning the production team, Miss Talbot and Mr Lovatt is essential, for they gave many, many hours to sculpting an almost flawless show. Miss Talbot, drama/theatre teacher worked on the speaking roles whilst music teacher, Mr Lovatt perfected solos and cast musical numbers. A clever combination for a musical!

Overall, Little Shop of Horrors was certainly not a night wasted! It was playful, vibrant and dark, just the way to begin the Easter holidays.’

Little Shop of Horrors

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