In high school, participating in the production of a play or musical was never my cup of tea. In fact, I wasn’t as involved in high school extra-curriculars as I am in college ones. But that change happened because of growing up and developing a new worldly perspective and also witnessing the Theatre Department here at Wilmington College. It is such an integral part of the campus, the community, and the curriculum.
This Fall, I was able to be a part of an exciting tradition at the College – I took part in the musical which this year was “Little Shop of Horrors.” Wynn Alexander directed the show, designed the set, and led the set construction team, all while teaching classes and fulfilling his academic responsibilities. He continues to be a major part of the campus community, whether that is giving out sound advice to students in need or by bringing about cheerful or thought-provoking conversations. Alexander is a great man this college truly is grateful for.
But going back to the musical, I did a lot. I was able to act, sing, and dance by being a derelict (which is a fancy term for being a bum), a customer, and a plant wrangler – that job was to help the Audrey II puppet operator Nic Keller during the second act with the larger puppets.
The entire experience was an absolute blast. Yes, productions of this magnitude are always a lot of work, but I figured I wasn’t doing anything compared to the amount of what Alexander was doing, so I gave it my all and contributed to the overall success.
This was my first musical ever, so everything was completely new and fresh. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised with how both my performance and the production turned out. “Little Shop of Horrors” was an interesting choice and I wasn’t sure how I wanted to be involved at first. I knew I didn’t have the training or time to go after a big role like Seymour Krelborn nor did I possess the gusto to go after the whacky and a-lot-of-work-required character of Orin Scrivello, D.D.S. That left an ensemble role, and I sure am glad I took a small role like that.
It is much different being an ensemble cast member compared to a large, named role. I didn’t have dozens of lines to memorize or complex blocking to remember; the best part was that a small role enabled me to see some of the inner workings of a musical production – I got to see how much rehearsal went into a big musical, the complicated process of constructing a set from start to finish, and what actors with large roles do to create their characters. Taking all of that in has left me with various ideas of my own on how I want to grow in this art.
Most of my ideas came from seeing my fellow cast members. Josh Woodward being casted as Seymour was well deserved, and Layne Frederick was the right choice to play Orin – they both played their respective roles gloriously and brought thunderous applause and laughter to the audience. Additionally, Keni Brown who played Audrey absolutely crushed the part and sent it flying out of the park. From what I could tell, every audience member loved her performance.
I will always be grateful for this opportunity to work with such an amazing cast of friends. Everyone made the show their own and brought what they could to the stage. I’m happy that the show is over because that means the next great opportunity is on the horizon, but looking back, I will always remember the days of walking around on stage as a bum fondly.