Thrills and chills combine with music and comedy this weekend when Carbon Schuylkill Community Theater produces the long-running Broadway sensation Little Shop of Horrors.
The musical is being staged in the auditorium at the Lehighton Annex, 110 North Third St., Lehighton. Show times are 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday. Doors open a half-hour before each show.
"As the board president, I am very excited and pleased to have our theater company perform this show," says Jonathan M. Rodgers, CSCT president.
"It is a great mix of comedy, drama and energy. The cast has worked very hard and will really be bringing the production to life."
The show is set in the early 1960s and features down-on-his-luck Seymour Krellborn, played by Jake Tokosh. Seymour stumbles upon an unusual plant, which turns out to have an incurable taste for blood.
He names the plant, which appears to be a cross between an avocado and a Venus fly trap, Audrey II, after his co-worker and love interest, Audrey, a dizzy blonde, played by Marissa Miller.
As Audrey II's thirst for blood is quenched, it begins to grow from a small, one-foot tall plant, to one that fills most of the stage. Even then, it is not satisfied.
The story unfolds and is assisted by the Doo-wop girls (Jessica Schafer, Alissa Muffley and Tina Becker). The action and adventure includes "The Dentist," (Ryan Miorelli), Audrey's sadistic boyfriend; and Kevin Killian as Mr. Mushnik, owner of the small flower shop where Seymour and Audrey work.
Other cast members include Constance Cunningham, Toni Reid, Katie Evans and Dalton Fake.
Dave Zimmerman contributes his talents as the evil and cunning voice of Audrey II.
According to director Zane Bachert, Audrey II is an anthropomorphic creature with a "huge, nasty looking pod, which gains a sharklike aspect when open and snapping at food."
The puppets, which were obtained through an agreement with Hob Hollow Studio in New Jersey, took some effort to operate.
"It was actually pretty hard to work with until we figured some stuff out," says Bachert, who was going to be the puppeteer, but his hands were too big.
"I will still be operating the biggest puppet, but we have others doing the other puppets," he adds. "Once we figured out how to use them, they are becoming more easy to use."
A recent graduate of Messiah College, Bachert earned a bachelor of arts in theater/directing.
"I started in theater in high school as an actor, but then when I got to college, I ended up acting, directing and doing technical theater work."
Little Shop of Horrors is Bachert's musical directing debut.
"This indeed is my first time directing a musical. I have directed about eight other shows ranging from short 10-minute pieces to three pieces from David Ives All in the Timing for my Senior Showcase. I am a relatively early career director, but I am always looking to expand and direct for any theater that is in need."
As with most shows, producing a musical can be expensive, especially for a community theater group. CSCT went all out with its fundraising efforts to be able to produce Little Shop of Horrors.
"Funding theater is never easy," says Bachert, "and we are always glad for donations of any kind. For this show we held three fundraisers which included a carwash, a Rita's night, and a Burger King night. We also used the online platform of Indiegogo.com to raise about $500 dollars for our show."
Bachert says the actors and stage crew were also given the responsibility of selling $100 worth of tickets and ads to help defray the cost of the production.
"In the future we are looking to have some businesses help us through sponsorship of our shows and seasons, as well as using Indiegogo.com again in the future."
Bachert says this show is definitely worth seeing.
"It has an amazing cast, a beautiful puppet, and it highlights talent within the local community. Theatre is an amazing art form that a lot of people don't really take time to come and see, but this show is a show that can change their mind and make them want to see theater again!
"CSCT is a wonderful organization which is slowly growing toward becoming a theater that will bring you big shows like Little Shop of Horrors all the time, but we can't do that without people coming to see our shows. I encourage anyone who is free to come and see the show, because it is simply awesome!"
While everyone is welcome to attend, Little Shop of Horrors is not recommended for children 12 and under due to content and language.
The production includes a pit band, which is under the musical direction of Angela Mosely. Choreography is by Megan Rodgers; costuming and makeup is by Jonathan M. Rodgers; set design and construction is by Bachert and Jonathan M. Rodgers.
Little Shop of Horrors is presented under special arrangements with Music Theatre International.
Backstage tours, family photos with Audrey II and picture discs of the production will be available for purchase at the doors.