Mean, green puppets from outer space

Theater department puts on Little Shop of Horrors for the spring musical


Tim Buckley

Beck Nolan playing Seymour, feeding Audrey 2

Ariana Porras, Series Editor

This year’s spring musical, Little Shop of Horrors, features a strange and unusual plant, the Audrey 2. But this show requires more than just one plant. More specifically, a whole set of mean, green puppets from outer space.

Little Shop of Horrors needs four puppets of Audrey 2 for the production. They are used at different points in the show, starting from a small hand puppet and ending with the largest puppet that needs to be moved by six to eight people. Three out of the four puppets are puppeteered by the voice actors for Audrey 2, seniors Taner Guzeldereli and Johnathan Wells.

For Guzeldereli and Wells, neither truly has an off night. While one is voicing Audrey 2, the other is puppeteering the plant onstage.

“Puppeteering the plant takes up everything that I have voicing it, so really I’m fully engaged in this musical, and it’s great. I get to physically be the character in two different ways,” said Guzeldereli.

Both Guzeldereli and Wells spent time outside of rehearsal learning how to puppeteer the Audrey 2 puppets. They both needed to coordinate and practice the movements, working together to make the character come to life.

“Since we both know the words and play the part, it makes it easier for us to know ‘ok, I have to say it like this, so I should puppeteer it the same way,’” said Wells.

These puppets require a lot of love and care throughout the show. Since the theater department rented the puppets from a professional group, Monkey Boys Productions, extra care is put into maintaining the puppets and making sure they are used properly.

“Because [the puppets] are so well made, there’s not very many problems puppeteering the plants. It’s all about finding what works and using them carefully,” said Guzeldereli.

There are dedicated members on the tech crew whose job is to make sure the puppets are used, then stored properly. Senior Jane Frank and sophomore Fernanda Beltran work together in making sure the puppets get where they need to go during the entire show.

“Sometimes people can misplace the puppets, and it’s my job to get them back to where they need to go. If we break the largest plant, it’s $50,000, so it’s really important that everyone is being careful with what their doing and wrapping everything up when we’re done,” said Frank.

For the two smaller puppets, moving them around isn’t a challenge. But for the bigger versions, it can make more than one person to transport them both on and off stage. Guzeldereli and Wells also both need help when getting into the third puppet, and stage crew helps with it all.

“Fernanda helps me bring everything onstage, and we have a couple stagehands help too. And when Johnathan and Taner are getting in the plant, we have to put on their shoes on and putting cloths over them to make sure their hidden,” said Frank.

Although these rented puppets do require a lot of care, they truly make the show come alive. Little Shop of Horrors is March 1, 2, and 3 at 7:00, and March 4 at 2:00. Tickets can be bought online or at the door. It’s $5 for students, and $10 for general admission.