Bursting with green energy and black comedy, the early sixties inspired music and macabre storyline of The Little Shop of Horrors were in safe hands when the students of St Joseph’s College performed the musical to five packed houses at DanceEast, Ipswich (February 4 – 7).
Outstanding among the performers were Head Boy, Wilfred Kemsley, who provided the voice of the alien, man-eating plant, Audrey II, and fellow Sixth Formers, Rhiannon Dunbar and Vibhash Gunasene, as the sweet but ill-fated lovers, Audrey and Seymour.
They were strongly supported by the sensational all-girl Spectors, a Greek chorus of lovely street urchins. The original production called for three singers but the breadth of talent on offer at St Joseph’s allowed the number to be swelled to nine. Their perfect harmonies and dance skills fully justified the innovation. All credit to Isabelle Atkinson, Jemima Bestley, Amelie Goulborn, Nelle Goulding, Olivia Max, Elinor Otaki, Mariam Pope, Anna Simpson-Jacobs and Carys Smith.
Where the girls drew admiration, three more Principals drew the laughter – Ethan Willetts as the devious flower shop owner, Mr Mushnik, Joseph Hartley-Mackenzie, who threw himself into the role of the sadistic dentist, Orin Scrivello, and Oliver Fraser, as one of his poor victims.
St Joseph’s College takes pride in the strength of its Creative and Performing Arts programme and that was born out in the ensemble – with pupils as young as Year 7 taking part. It was particularly remarkable in so professional a show that the sound, lighting, props, scenery and make-up were all in the hands of students.
A number operated the enormous and menacing Audrey II, with Oscar Bolton putting in hot and tiring hours as the puppeteer animating the monstrous mouth of the plant from within.
Mrs Clarke, Principal of St Joseph’s College, paid tribute to the staff production team of Mr Layton, Director of Music (Musical Director and Conductor), Director and Choreographer, Mrs Pethybridge and Miss Hutchison, and Assistant Musical Director, Mrs Alexander.
She said, ‘They have worked tremendously hard with the cast and crew and the results were evident there on stage. Like fellow members of the audience, I was mesmerised by our magnificent singers and dancers, our convincing actors and our confident and competent technicians. Our school motto is “Being Our Best” and so were they all throughout the run.’
As well as the four evening shows, a shorter version of the musical was performed on Friday afternoon to an invited audience of Year 5 pupils from St Margaret’s Church of England Primary School, Bolton Lane, Ipswich, and St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Woodbridge Road, Ipswich, as part of the Spotlight programme, when they were hosted by Year 5 and 6 pupils from St Joseph’s College Prep School.
The annual Spotlight event encourages local schools to work with St Joseph’s College specialist Music and Drama staff to develop performances in response to the Friday matinee. The children of St Margaret’s and St Mary’s will take part in a creative workshop at St Joseph’s before returning to the school during its Arts Week in June to perform their own take on this fabulous musical.