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Little Shop of Horrors
Creating monsters for Drury High

By Hinda Mandell
North Adams Transcript

READSBORO, Vt. -- While classes may be wrapping up for the year at Drury High School in North Adams, Mass., behind the scenes preparation for the school's drama production next fall is already in full swing.
In November, the drama team will present the comedy "Little Shop of Horrors," said Dr. Leonard "Len" Radin, the drama team director. At the center of the play is a man-eating plant named Audrey II. Audrey is currently under construction here at Waterman Studios, where artists Ron and Tiger Waterman are implementing their vision for this detailed prop, which in its largest size will measure 12 feet high.

"Little Shop" takes place at a New York City plant shop in Harlem. Facing hard times, the shop may be forced to close its doors. Then, when the financial situation seems most dire, a store clerk discovers the plant he names Audrey II, after a woman he fancies. Suddenly, people are visiting the store to catch a glimpse of the alien plant, but the store clerk, who acts as the plant's keeper, can't make the strange thing grow.

"He discovers by accident the only thing to make this plant grow is blood," said Radin, who will enter his 18th season as a volunteer with the drama department. "He realizes it wants bodies."

The more the plant consumes, the larger it grows.

While the plot certainly sounds gruesome, Radin said it is in fact a comic play. Radin, who has been in practice as a dentist for 32 years, said he held off producing this play because of a subplot about a sadistic dentist. With a laugh, Radin admitted he finally feels secure enough to produce the play, even though it makes fun of dentists.

"At this point in my career I can laugh at myself," he said. "My whole career has been getting away from the image of the sadistic dentist."

Scott Bailey will be the show's musical director, with Annie Pecor as its choreographer. Both are alumni of the school's drama department.

At the Watermans' studio, the smallest size plant has already been constructed. They are in the midst of completing the medium Audrey II and have a model and sketches ready for the largest size prop. The artistic duo made the props out of plastelene clay, an oil-based product. Tiger then papier-machéd over the clay. When the material dried, she cut the clay out of the sculpture and then put the papier-maché back together.

The process of creating the man-eating plant began immediately after the Watermans saw a production of the show in Boston last month with Radin.

"It was well done," said Ron Waterman. "It was kind of intimidating to look at this professional play -- I don't know how many millions it took to do it -- and now it's, 'Alright, you do it.' "

Ron, 63, and Tiger, 58, both graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1971. Tiger will retire this year from 34 years of teaching art at Hoosac Valley High School in Adams, Mass.
link to article

The article below is from the first page of the Transcript, June15, 2005
from iBerkshires.com
Drury’s “Little Shop of Horrors”
By Susan Bush - October, 08 2005

North Adams – Intriguing verbal exchanges occurred during an Oct. 7 rehearsal of the Drury Drama Team’s November presentation of “Little Shop of Horrors.”

“Tell Charlie his mother’s here to measure him,” drama team Director Len Radin called out to several of the young actors.

Which Are Better, "Ds" or "Fs"?

“Charlie” is 17-year-old Charles Manuel; his mother Connie was fitting the actor for a brassiere worn by the character “Mrs.Luce,” a role traditionally acted by males during the play’s Broadway run.

The fitting generated off-stage discussion easily overheard on stage.

“Are we using 'double-Ds' or 'Fs' [bra sizes]?” was one question.

“I think it’s ‘Fs’,” came the answer. “Can you still get ‘Fs’ at Victoria’s Secret [catalogue and retail shop]?”

An apparently well-endowed Luce is only one of the roles Charles Manuel will perform; he is also cast as “crazy dentist,” Dr. Oren Scrivello.

The play is scheduled for Nov. 10 and Nov. 11 and Nov.18 and Nov. 19 at the Drury High School auditorium. The curtain goes up at 7 p.m. during all performances and tickets are available at the Persnickety store on Eagle Street and Papyri Books on Main Street. General admission tickets are $9, student tickets are $7. Tickets will be available at the door.

Better Than Broadway

Radin has been at the helm of the drama team for 18 years. Over the years, he’s been asked about presenting the play, which is also a horror movie cult classic, and he acknowledged once having a certain reservation about the play.

Radin is also Dr. Leonard Radin, a dentist with a city-based dental practice. The play’s theme isn’t flattering to those in the profession, he noted.

“I was a little leery of doing a play about a sadistic dentist,” he said with a smile.

But the production is likely to be counted among the best ever presented by Drury students and any reservations are long abandoned, Radin said.

“I think this will be among the best plays that we’ve ever done,” Radin said. “One thing that’s very impressive, in addition to this talented cast, is the plants.”

A large, all-grown-up likeness of “Audrey II,” an articulate, carnivorous, and oddly appealing plant with a pivotal play role was designed by “Tiger” and Ron Waterman of Readsboro, Vt..

“It’s better than the one on Broadway,” Radin said.

Drury student Ed Horsfall will give Audrey a voice, and freshman student Trevor Foehl, 14, will launch his high school drama debut as ensemble cast member “Patrick Martin” and “Audrey’s” puppeteer.

Foehl said that he is excited about the play. Rehearsals will sharpen his puppeteer skills, he said.

“I’m learning as I go,” Foehl said. “We haven’t put the whole plant together yet, but I’m excited about when we do. And I’m learning from the kids who’ve been on the drama team for a while. It’s really fun.”

Meanwhile, Radin instructed several actors to start rehearsal of a scene, and a thespian contingent leapt to the stage and took their places. But there was an anxious moment…

Trevor Foehl, 14, will serve as "Audrey II's" puppeteer during a Nov. performance of "Little Shop of Horrors."

“Doc, Doc, wait, one question – how does the scene stop?” asked one of the actors.

Radin was ready with the answer, and former Drury Drama Team member and current musical director and professional musician Scott Bailey launched the scene’s piano accompaniment.

Radin emphasized that the drama team isn’t a “club” but is a full academic department theater program with education credit status. The program also hosts an “honors” level drama program.

The program is invigorating, he said.

Talent, Talent, Everywhere

“I find that every year, I’m starting anew,” Radin said. “It’s a new project with new kids. I can’t burn out. No matter what my state of mind, when I come into this high school, I feel wonderful. There’s such a dynamic. I don’t see how you can’t be renewed by these intensely talented kids.”

Student talents exceed the ability to act, sing, and dance; 17-year-old Kim Rose has exhibited a photography skill that caught many team members and even Rose herself by surprise.

Rose said that she’s always enjoyed taking photographs and during the previous school year, captured some drama team moments with a digital camera. When the photographs were viewed, the response was quick and consistent, Rose said.

“Everybody was like ‘oh, my God, Kim, those are good!,'” Rose said.

A display case in a high school corridor boasts black-and-white “publicity head shots” of the play’s cast members photographed by Rose; testament to her ability came directly from the teen-aged students themselves.

On Par with Professionals

Horsfall noted that young people are almost always dissatisfied with photographs of themselves, including yearbook photographs that are often done by professional photographers.

Rose may have accomplished the impossible with her photos, he said.

“I though that mine [photograph] was pretty good,” Horsfall said. “Most people always think that their picture looks bad, but everybody is happy with these pictures.”

Ensemble actor Lauren Marceau, 14, said that she is happy with her cast photograph.

“I like the one she took of me,” she said. “It has a real professional quality.”

Manuel was equally impressed with Rose’s work.

“It’s really good,” he said. “I’m good friends with a professional photographer from Time-Life magazine and I think she’s on par with him, especially for face photos.”

Rose said she hasn’t yet taken photography classes and is not deviating from her career goal.

“I’ll probably take a [photography] class and keep it as a hobby,” she said. “I want to be a social worker and work with children.”

She was clearly modest about her work.

“I don’t know that the pictures are good until somebody tells me,” she said. “I don’t set anything up, I just take the camera and go ‘click.’”

Rose’s work may be viewed at the www.drurydrama.com Internet web site. Rose’s photographs are included in an “Our Town” and a 2005 Fall Foliage Golden Jubilee Parade drama team slideshow.

Radin and the Drury High School Drama team are expected to bask in the limelight soon. Gov. Mitt Romney is scheduled to present a “Point of Light” award to Radin for his development of the high school’s Department of Educational Theater.

Did You Know...

“Little Shop of Horrors” trivia:

* a black-and-white film version of “Little Shop of Horrors” was filmed as a low-budget production during 1960. Actor Jack Nicholson portrayed a masochistic dental patient in the film.

* in 1982, “Little Shop of Horrors” was produced as a major musical and delivered 2,209 Broadway performances.

* during 1986, an elaborate "Little Shop of Horrors" film was produced and featured actors such as Rick Moranis, Steve Martin, and Ellen Greene.

Additonal information about the Drury High School Drama team is available at the www.drurydrama.com Internet web site.

Susan Bush may be reached at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367. 

Drury High School Drama Team actor and amateur photographer Kim Rose
Trevor Foehl, 14, will serve as "Audrey II's" puppeteer during a Nov. performance of "Little Shop of Horrors."
"Audrey II", created by "Tiger" and Ron Waterman
This project was supported by a grant  from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation.
Fall Foliage Parade
This film was the winner of the International Thespian Festival 2011 film competition on theatre etiquette.