Annie Russell Ends 2011 with Musical Spectacular

November 11, 2011

Little Shop of Horrors

Taylor Sorrel (2nd from right) as Seymour cradles the bloodthirsty Audrey II. (Photo by Tony Firriolo)

The Annie Russell Theatre production of Little Shop of Horrors rocks the house. The celebrated sci-fi musical is superbly presented by the Rollins Department of Theatre and Dance. With a live jazz orchestra onstage, a theatrically and musically talented cast and professional set and props, Little Shop of Horrors is delightful on every level.

The most striking element of the performance is the music. The small yet strong cast more than proves a vocal proficiency in almost every song. They are accompanied by a tight ensemble of Rollins jazz students and local professionals under the musical direction of Jamey Ray, lecturer of music technology. The quality of the orchestra allows Jaz Zapatos (Class of 2012) to display her depth of talent with ease in the leading role of Audrey.

“This is the first time audiences get to see me sing in a musical on the Annie Russell stage,” said Zapatos, who is graduating a year early to pursue a theatre career in New York City. “I have a passion to sing, and I get to show off what I have.”

In the first leading role of his Rollins theatrical career, Taylor Sorrel (Class of 2014) exhibited excellent musicality and confidence as Seymour. “I was a little intimidated at first by the role and working with a puppet,” Sorrel said. “But, with the support of the ensemble along with fantastic direction, I was able to rise to the challenge and find myself.”

Under the direction of guest artist John DiDonna, Little Shop of Horrors is humorous and provocative. Brian Hatch (Class of 2012) succeeds in making the audience laughably uncomfortable portraying Audrey’s abusive dentist boyfriend Orin, a role he was born to play. However, what steels the show are the impressive Audrey II plant puppets and their puppeteers. The production of Little Shop of Horrors features four high-quality puppets ranging in size from handheld to room-filling, courtesy of CBC Creative, Inc.

Robert Burrows (Class of 2014) was the voice of the Audrey II puppets and worked closely with puppeteers Matthew Hendry (Class of 2015), Emma Johnson (Class of 2014) and Lalitha Kasal (Class of 2015). “Acting only with my voice is really fun but also physically demanding,” explained Burrows, an English major. “The puppeteers and I worked on matching the attitude of Audrey II with the inflection of my voice.”

Little Shop of Horrors, which runs from November 11 through 19, will host an audience talkback on Puppetry in Modern Theatre following the matinée performance on Sunday, November 13. For tickets and more information, please visit or call the box office at 407.646.2145.

By Justin Braun

Office of Marketing & Communications
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