Dance, set design to make 'Little Shop' distinctive

dance rehearsalSUNY Oswego students stroll, tango and twist on stage for the theatre performance of “Little Shop of Horrors,” which continues this weekend in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.

Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell, an adjunct dance professor at SUNY Oswego, choreographs the production with a mix of ideas and steps.

“This script is set in the 1950s, and we’re giving it a futuristic twist,” Wilkins-Mitchell explained. “Choreographically, it allows me to use some of the old dances like stroll, four corners or the twist, along with some cultural dances such as the tango and hora, and give them a contemporary look.”

Making inanimate objects move is another challenge of the production team. The design of the play’s catalyst and villain—a strange, bloodthirsty plant named Audrey II—falls to Joe Rial, the production’s scenic and lighting designer.

“I’ve created something that kept the Venus flytrap feel with a touch of pitcher plant and thistle thrown in,” Rial noted. “I did not want to wander too far from the original conception of the plant and disappoint the hard-core fans. I’ve kept the full grinning lips and updated the style to keep in line with the futuristic direction of the show.”

The musical, directed by Jonel Langenfeld-Rial, also includes a timeless love story between the desperate, dejected duo of Seymour and Audrey, who tend to Audrey II in Mr. Mushnik’s skid-row flower shop.

“Little Shop of Horrors” started as a 1960 dark comedy film by director Roger Corman, later opening as an off-Broadway show in 1962. The story returned to the stage in 1982, adapted by Alan Mencken and Howard Ashman. “Little Shop” became widely known for the 1986 film adaptation directed by Frank Oz of “The Muppet Show” fame.

The curtain rises at 8 p.m. for Saturday’s performance of “Little Shop of Horrors.” The show closes with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday. 

Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and children, and $7 for SUNY Oswego students.

For reservations, call the Tyler box office at 312-2141 or e-mail

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PHOTO CAPTION: Dance stance—Choreographer Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell (second from left) works with some of the student performers in the upcoming SUNY Oswego production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” With Wilkins-Mitchell are, from left, Kathryn Kobos, Penelope Marcelle and Jodi Castello.

(Posted: Apr 05, 2006)