Department of Theatre to Present Comedy/Sci-Fi Rock Musical Little Shop of Horrors
Songs by writer Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken, the creative team for such Disney classics as Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, helped to make Little Shop of Horrors into a long-running, Off-Broadway hit.
East Stroudsburg University’s Department of Theatre will be presenting the rock musical April 19-23 in the Smith-McFarland Theatre of the university’s Fine and Performing Arts Center, Normal and Marguerite streets, East Stroudsburg.
With songs like ‘”Somewhere That’s Green” and “Suddenly, Seymour,” Ashman and Menken blend early 1960s rock and roll, doo-wop and Motown to enliven this comedy/science fiction story of a hapless florist shop worker who raises a very unusual and unnerving plant.
“For this musical, the choreography is just as important as the music in defining the world of the play,” explained Margaret J. Ball, D.M.A., the musical’s director and professor and chair of theatre at ESU. “Luckily, one of our department’s alumni, Tara Coyle, was available to join the creative team for the production.”
Coyle, an Easton native, has been dancing since she was4. After graduating from ESU in 2004, she moved to Florida where she performed in local and regional theatre and also choreographed several productions before returning to the Lehigh Valley.
To develop the choreography, Coyle “listened to the music hundreds of times” and put together 30 pages of choreography notes. “Every line in a song generates three lines of notes,” she explained. “You need to indicate what the legs, arms and upper body should be doing at that point.
“Since Little Shop is set in the early 1960s, I need to use the movement style from that time, but I also want to add a modern flair to the production,” Coyle added. “For example, the choreography for the street urchins, the narrators of piece, combines the Supremes with a little Beyoncé.”
In the song, “Ya Never Know,” Coyle noted, “you can hear bits of the cha-cha and mambo, so I mixed those elements with a 1960s conga line and added some simple salsa to give it a modern twist.”
“I feel like I’ve known Tara for many years because she’s connected to the students and so easy to work with,” said Destiny Washington, a senior musical theatre major from Philadelphia, Pa., who plays Crystal, one of the street urchins in the production.
“Her choreography features clean dance moves, and she goes over them many times until you’re comfortable with the routine,” Washington added. “She also encourages us to add our own sass and flair to really make the movements part of our characters.”
“ESU is where I found out who I was,” Coyle stated, “and I use all that I learned in the Theatre Department when I choreograph a production. The ESU students are exciting to work with because theatre is their passion and they want to do this for the rest of their lives. Unlike some directors, Dr. Ball has let me take my ideas and run with them, and I’m very grateful for that.”
In addition to Ball and Coyle, other members of the creative team for Little Shop of Horrors include: costume and scenic designer Yoshi Tanokura, associate professor of theatre, lighting designer and technical director Christopher Domanski, associate professor of theatre; and guest musical director Ruth Kochera.
Curtain times for the production are 7:30 p.m. April 19-21; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. April 22; and 2 p.m. April 23. All performances are in the Smith-McFarland Theatre of the university’s Fine and Performing Arts Center, Normal and Marguerite streets, East Stroudsburg.
General admission is $12; senior citizens, faculty and staff, with ID are $10;
students with ID are $7; and youth 13 and under are $5. The production is recommended for ages 10 and above.
Tickets are available online in advance at esu.edu/theatretickets (credit cards only online). Remaining tickets are available at the box office one hour before curtain on performance dates (cash and checks only at the box office).
For other information or reservations, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 570-422-3483.