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It's a 'Horror' of a show at CHS

Get ready for a horrifying, hilarious and toe-tapping treat, theatergoers, "Little Shop of Horrors" will be presented by Cloquet High School students next week.

The horror comedy rock musical tells the tale of Seymour, a meek nerdy floral assistant who finds success and romance by nurturing a plant that thrives only on human blood and flesh. As the audience grooves to the music, the plant grows larger and larger and Seymour more anemic. Then people start disappearing.

In his second year at the helm of Cloquet's fall musical, director Corey Hunt said he was looking for something different in tone and music style this year, and something that Cloquet had never done before. And "Little Shop of Horrors" just happens to be one of his favorites.

"It combines two of my favorite genres, science fiction and musical theater," said Hunt, who teaches English at CHS. "It's wild, it's zany, it's got some elements of old monster movies, but it has a lot of heart. Plus the music is absolutely incredible: a bit of doo-wop and Motown mixed with rock and roll."

Hunt and assistant director Darrell Davey, both Cloquet grads, are also bringing back some older traditions, including having a pit orchestra made up of mostly students.

"It gets more students involved in the production, and it's a fantastic learning experience for the actors to get used to singing along and timing their voices to live music," Hunt said. "It just makes the whole production feel more alive."

"Alive" is the key word here. This play moves at a lively pace, and the plant at its horrifying core does too. The young actors - particularly Preston LaTour as Seymour - have the vocal chops to truly bring the play to life. Other actors in the spotlight include Lilyana Rosen as Audrey, Merissa Witte, Elise Cawcutt and Victoria Nelson as a chorus of street urchins, Gage Allen as a sadistic dentist, and Ethan Lavan as the plant store owner. Memphis Magdzas is the voice of the plant, aka Audrey II, aka a foul-mouthed, R&B singing carnivore.

Others are taking leadership roles offstage, including senior Presley Torrence with choreography, and stage managers Brianna Conant and Johanna Bernu, who basically run everything backstage from supervising projects to overseeing the crew during performances, the director said. Hunt also credited a "small army of adult supervisors and volunteers" behind the scenes, naming band director Kevin Huseth, choir teacher Rhonda Card, Davey - who's got his own crew busy bringing the final plant to life - and close to a dozen other volunteers and supervisors.

Davey said he's really happy to have a more student-driven production for one of his favorite shows. "We hold ourselves to a high standard here and that's good, but I'd be happy with a B+ if it means more kids were involved and felt more ownership," he said.

Hunt said this quirky show promises to entertain almost every age, so he encouraged people to buy tickets soon at https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/78302. Performances start at 7 p.m. Nov. 16-18 and 2 p.m. Nov. 19. Cost is $12 for adults, $10 for students/seniors and $5 for children.

"The cast, crew and musicians have been working so hard to make this a great show, and audiences will experience great live music, giant puppets, cool special effects and outstanding performances," he said.

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