Ela Theater Marks Success With Edgy Shop of Horrors
More than 600 people attended the youth theater group's performances.
Ela Theater Company performed Little Shop of Horrors, July 28 and 29, at Wauconda High School, entertaining approximately 600 enthusiastic people with this engaging musical.
Ela Theater Company is the only children’s theater program in Lake Zurich with participants ranging from third to 12th grade. Previous summer shows include “My Fair Lady,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Oklahoma,” and this year’s Little Shop of Horrors, directed by volunteers Mary Beth Euker and Robin Kern.
Little Shop of Horrors takes place in the ‘60s at a struggling flower shop on Skid Row. Seymour (Jason Miller) is a nerdy employee who through experimentation creates a “strange and interesting plant”, Audrey II (Allie Sadler), named after his coworker and love interest, Audrey (Meg Grinde).
As Audrey II flourishes, so does the shop and Seymour becomes famous. However, soon Seymour discovers that Audrey II can speak and has developed a bloodthirsty appetite.
Austin Keller played storeowner Mr. Mushnik and Jeffrey Watkins plays Orin, Audrey’s boyfriend, a black-leather dentist obsessed with pain and laughing gas.
Ela Theater Company (ETC) chose this show because it is more daring and edgy, which would appeal to some of the older kids in ETC. ETC has done more family-oriented musicals in the past, and while ETC will still continue to do those types of musicals, they wanted to show a wider range of musicals.
The cast and crew have rehearsed at the Trilogy Performing Arts Center since June. The show is all cast, which means everyone gets some type of part. Street Tempo Theater donated many of their props and costumes after ETC saw their production of Little Shop.
This year, ETC had a student director, Cassidy Fella, for Little Shop of Horrors. According to Euker, Fella did everything from blocking particular scenes to working directly with Euker and Kern and she got to learn about theater from a director’s perspective.
Euker emphasizes that the company is a teaching program, teaching the participants not just musical, acting, and dancing skills, but life skills such as presentation, teamwork, and self-esteem building. The program also provides an easier transition for middle school participants going from middle school to high school because of friendships made in the program.
Euker said being in theater helps the students become better audience members.
“They’ll go to a show and have a different appreciation for theater now,” she said.
Upcoming events for ETC include performing a medley of show highlights Sept. 9 for the 60th anniversary of Ela-Vernon High School's (now Stevenson and Lake Zurich High School) class of 1952, in addition to musicals for next summer. Euker said the company is considering doing a small musical in the fall or eventually doing a parent-child show, but nothing is certain yet.
Euker was pleased with how the show went.
“I couldn’t have been happier with our cast and crew,” she said. “I wouldn’t have changed anything.”
For more information on the Ela Theater Company, visit the website.