Greens Farms Academy is a PreK-12, coed school in Westport, CT

Building the Little Shop of Horrors
scene shop

Behind any musical is a team of people creating the details that make a show come to life. For the fall musical Little Shop of Horrors, that team resides in the GFA Scene Shop.

In a few short weeks, the team — Carter Simko, Hannah Shairer, Alexander Valbuena (grades 10) and Brie McFarlane (grade 9) — will break ground on the physical set pieces, but they have plenty to keep them busy in the meantime. Some of their current tasks include building flowers, both dead and alive, props that actors will use during the show, a gas mask, a clock that moves by itself and more.

On a performance night, this talented crew’s responsibilities vary. While Shairer and McFarlane will help with flying scenery or elements or moving set pieces in and out during scene changes, Simko and Valbuena will be inside the physical plants, acting as their puppeteers. 

“It’s an experience,” said Valbuena. “Where else are you going to be inside a giant man-eating plant and have the ability to animate it? It’s so cool to be a part of that and bring it to life.” 

Before performance weekend, in the beginning stages of any production, there is a strategy and design process that takes place. “We first prioritized and organized — writing down what we knew we had to build, the materials we knew we needed to build them, and where we could get those materials,” McFarlane explained.

Over the course of weeks, they will help bring the vision of the show to life, which doesn’t come without hard work.

An overarching theme — the finished product makes the hard work worth it. “Seeing it all come together is my favorite part of the experience,” McFarlane and Shairer agreed.

“I appreciate the process more than anything — the way we work together and think, the camaraderie we have in the building process. When it’s the weekend of the show and we can see the final product, it’s just a reminder of what we’ve accomplished throughout the fall and how we got there,” said Valbuena.

While the choice of Little Shop of Horrors came as a surprise to the team at first, the four students agreed everyone who sees the musical is in for a treat. “It’s something different. You don’t normally see this type of production in a high school,” Shairer said. “It’s the show of a lifetime,” McFarlane added.

Little Shop of Horrors will be running Nov. 21–23 in the Hartwell Performing Arts Center Theatre. Tickets will be available for purchase here on Oct. 18.

The musical Little Shop of Horrors begins with a meek flower shop assistant, Seymour, pining for his co-worker Audrey. During a total eclipse, he discovers an unusual plant, which he names Audrey II, which feeds only on human flesh and blood. The growing plant attracts a great deal of business for the previously struggling store. Then the real fun begins!