Take one bloodsucking plant, add a nerdy florist, mix in a ditsy girlfriend and you have the recipe for a musical that's full of madcap humor and upbeat music -- "Little Shop of Horrors."
The popular musical burst onto the off-Broadway scene in 1982. The lavish musical was the remake of a 1960 low budget horror comedy produced by Roger Corman. The creative team of Alan Mencken and Howard Ashman took the black comedy and made it zany and fun with doo-wop music that is so infectious you want to sing along.
Batavia High School presents "Little Shop of Horrors" this weekend in the Batavia High School cafetorium. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. today and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
This is the first musical directed by Dominic Cattero, the new auditorium director and is the final performance in the cafetorium. It is a bittersweet moment for Cattero, who was a cast member of "Brigadoon," the first production to take the cafetorium stage in 1996.
"Before that, the productions were held in the gym," he said. "So it was really neat to have a stage for our show."
Over the years, the cafetorium has been the brunt of many jokes but Cattero is quick to point out that there have been some benefits from having experience on the small stage.
"Having the ability to create theater out of nothing is experience that will be beneficial if you have to create a theater space out of a storefront or in a park," he added.
Cattero who worked for a brief period of time as a freelance director recalled one theater where he had to design lighting out of nothing.
"We had so many extension cords and power strips that we had to position people at the power strips to turn the strips off and on," said Cattero, "so that we wouldn't lose the electricity."
After graduating from Illinois Wesleyan University, Cattero worked freelance and then took a position in Quincy as director of education and outreach for the Quincy theater. During that time he doubled the programming and set up a outreach program that took the educational plays into the schools. When the position of artistic director was offered to him, he increased the programming, created sponsorships, and increased the number of season ticket holders.
Although he loved his experience in Quincy, he is thrilled to be back in Batavia managing the new auditorium and is excited about all that the new space has to offer. He is also excited to be directing the last show in the cafetorium, as challenging as that may be.
"I don't really like the word 'challenge,'" he said. "It's more about creating a design that is the best way to use the space. We're sort of doing a PG-13 version of "Little Shop" but it will be the cleanest, crispest production ever produced in a high school setting. I think the audience will be surprised because of the energy and passion that the students and the adults involved in this play have."
Assisting Cattero in directorial duties are Christina Virgilio, vocal direction, and John Heath, orchestra director. Choreographers are Tracy Adams and Dominic Cattero. Set construction manager is Mike Baglieri.
Batavia drama students and their parents have been spending the last eight weekends working on the set which looks better than many professional company traveling sets.
Cattero promises surprises with this production even if it ends with a man-eating plant winning in the end.
"The musical is really mocking the old sci-fi movies of the 1950s," he said. "We do that in a way that is sure to make the audience smile throughout the show."
Doug Burricter, Drew Pederson, Megan Scharlau, Maddie Mueller, Orin Scrivello, Johnny Schueneman, Mary Alcott, Kim Bartos, Katie Bertness, Megan Cave, C.J. Chandler, Kyle Cutrara, David Gotfryd, Haley Grant, Charles Grimse, Claire Hampton, Claire Heronemus, Steven Knappe, Cecily Lemon, Megan LeResche, Andrew Pelletier, Attitat Punjakabut, Kelsey Skomer, Alex Webber, Glynis Gilio, Liz Greiwe, Jessi McCluskey, Alex Santoro and Megan Warren