Summit Theatre Company’s Winter Production Dazzles Audiences

All the hard work put into ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ clearly pays off


Photo taken by Panabi Free

On Feb. 24, curtains opened for Summit’s 2023 Winter Musical, “Little Shop of Horrors.” The stage was decked with beautifully-costumed performers standing amongst intricate sets. Atop the largest set piece sat Summit’s Jazz band, who performed the score for the show live. 

“Little Shop of Horrors” is the accumulation of Summit Theatre Company’s hard work over the past four months—and it has undoubtedly paid off. The production is a beautiful rendition of “Little Shop,” and the cast’s performance makes it seem akin to one on Broadway. Cast and crew alike were beyond excited to share their work with the public.

“I’m looking forward to people seeing how talented all of the actors in this production are,” said Emily Lehto, a Summit junior and audio assistant for the show. “The cast has worked really hard, and it definitely shows.”

The Winter Musical is one of Summit Theatre Company’s three yearly productions. Typically, those include a smaller, “Black Box” theater production, a full-scale musical and a “Shakespeare in the Park” play, all of which follow a theme. This year’s pick is “Don’t Feed the Plants,” so everything STC puts on has a noir-type feel, with horror-adjacent storylines. The fall Black Box production centered around a deadly video game entity that slowly took control of a small town: “Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom.” Both “Neighborhood 3” and “Little Shop” will be followed by “Hamlet” in the spring, the perfect end to a petrifying year.

This winter musical has been a labor of love for everyone involved—the cast, crew and band practiced for hours nightly to prepare for opening night. The careful attention to detail is thanks to director Lara Okamoto, the Summit theatre teacher. 

“We all started training on the same project a few months ago, and it’s amazing how much we’ve learned in such little time,” Lehto said.

 Throughout everything, the cast has morphed into one big family and has quintessential group practices—from quips of “thank you, places” (a superstitious phrase that must be said before rehearsals) to enthusiastic vocal warmups.

“I look forward most to warmups [with the cast] before the performances because they are always so fun,” said Summit senior and stage manager Mack Gerlach.

“Little Shop” revolves around the employees of a plan shop in California’s skid row neighborhood: shy Seymour, sweet and bubbly Audrey and egocentric owner Mr. Mushnik, portrayed by Gavin Felicano, Natalie Tripp and Owen Cogen, respectively. Business is slow for Mushnik’s Flower Shop, so Seymour decides to unveil an enigmatic new plant to attract customers. Although Mr. Mushnik is initially opposed to the idea, he later supports it as people begin to flock and see the strange, carnivorous vegetable for themselves. 

Throughout the plot, Seymour is enamored with Audrey, who he believes to be “the perfect girl.” Audrey is busy fending off her sadistic dentist boyfriend Orin Scrivello, who has it out to hurt her, but she secretly dreams of one day moving to the suburbs with Seymour. As Seymour’s love for Audrey grows, so does his strange plant, eventually revealing its sinister motives.

Audiences have loved seeing Seymour and Audrey’s romance unfold. At the end of “Little Shop’s” opening night, the audience enthusiastically applauded the cast with a standing ovation—enthusiasm that has continued throughout every show since. The subtle humor behind every musical number perfectly complements the underlying terror presented by the plant, and audiences can’t stop laughing.

“Our most consistent [with audiences] number has been “Mushnik and Son” and I think it’s because it’s so incredibly funny throughout the entire thing that everyone just dies of laughter,” said Tripp.

After all time the cast has put into making “Little Shop” a success it has manifested into an unforgettable performance.

“The cast of Little Shop is so incredibly special that when we come together for every rehearsal, it’s magic!” said Tripp.