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Surprising what can make you laugh: “Little Shop of Horrors”

Posted: Mar 06, 2013


Lillian Guenseth (L) reacts to Ben Geeding's character as Seth Lowery (R) looks on.

A man-eating plant, a crazy dentist and a nerdy florist: this year’s spring musical was not your typical song and dance production. “Little Shop of Horrors,” a creepy show with extravagant characters, was on stage at Kresge Auditorium February 21, 22 and 23, 2013.

“It was so professional,” Tessa Dattilo, assistant director, said. “I forgot that I was sitting in Kresge at a college show. That’s how professional it was.”

With a very creepy cast, the plot unfolds in a florist shop located on Skid Row. It’s the story of Seymour Krelborn, played by Ben Geeding, who just wants to be accepted and loved.

“He finds love and acceptance, along with hate and the true meaning of happiness, in the form of a plant,” Dattilo said.

Triple threat refined

The set and costumes, rented from a professional theater company, added professionalism to the production. But what really made this musical happen were the nine cast members — each with the “triple threat” of theater: dance, act and sing — and a hard-working crew.

With such a small cast, the show came to life quicker than expected. The cast started rehearsals in the beginning of the spring semester. Less than two months later, they had a completed show.

“My favorite part was that everyone, cast or crew, gave 110 percent, which makes the show more enjoyable for everyone,” said Taihla Eddins, who played the role of Ronnette.

A special addition to the cast was Olivet’s own Professor Mark Bishop, who played multiple characters, including a leather-wearing dentist and a woman. Bishop is also a meteorologist at ABC 7 Chicago.

Rave reviews

“When I got tickets for the play, I was not sure what to expect from the cast of a small college in Midwest America. But right from the start, it was obvious we were in for a treat,” said Norm Grimsley, a columnist for Kankakee’s The Daily Journal. His review of the musical reflected the show’s quality.

On February 23, ABC 7 showed a clip of the performance. 

The cast included: Taihla Eddins (sophomore, Bloomington, Ill.) as Ronnette; Alyssa Norden (senior, Kankakee, Ill.) as Crystal; Ashley Sarver (sophomore, Urbana, Ohio) as Chiffon; Seth Lowery (junior, Kankakee, Ill.) as Mushnik; Lillian Guenseth (junior, Galesburg, Ill.) as Audrey; Ben Geeding (junior, Manteno, Ill.) as Seymour Krelborn; Nicholas Allen (sophomore, Kankakee, Ill.) as Audrey II; Wesley Taylor (senior, Kankakee, Ill.) as the voice of Audrey II; and Professor Bishop. 

Jerry Cohagan, communication and theatre professor, directed and was assisted by Tessa Dattilo. Dr. Don Reddick, music department chair, was the music director. Kay Welch, music professor, was the vocal director. Hannah Jacobson was the choreographer.

The next Olivet stage production is “The Foreigner,” April 4–6, 2013.

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