Students at GFA have the power to try as many different roles and responsibilities as they wish. This year, junior Zach Friedman did just that and chose to take a step behind the curtain from his typical on-stage musical and acting roles.
This fall, Friedman shares the dual responsibilities of Assistant Director and bass player in the orchestra pit for Little Shop of Horrors. Friedman explains, “I always knew I wanted to be in the pit; it’s what I want to do professionally. I knew there was some way to find some capacity or job where I can be involved with the musical the whole season but switch to ‘pit life’ during tech week.”
As assistant director, Friedman starts by making the schedule for the week and planning how the rehearsals will be organized. He assists in the many tasks of a director — scene work, blocking, learning lines, directing songs, choreography and piecing it all together. “If Mr. Stout is looking one way, I’m looking the other to make sure all our bases are covered,” he explained.
“A good assistant director has to play devil’s advocate and challenge the point of view of the director. You have to be responsible for helping execute what they think and sharing, or showing, the opposite of what they think,” Friedman said.
Friedman is ecstatic that he can both assistant direct and follow his passion for playing in the pit. “I was always drawn to it. When there’s a concert on stage, you don’t have a connection with the other musicians because you’re the ones being viewed. But when you’re in the pit, nobody can see you — you can have fun, joke around, gesture the nuances of the music. Even in just one rehearsal, the pit becomes a family,” he said with a smile.
That family feel and sense of community is what drew Friedman to performing arts his freshman year. “During the school day, there’s this weight of ‘I have a test’ or ‘I have homework’, but as soon as you enter the realm of the backstage hallway or get in the wings, it all goes away and you’re just a group working together toward a common goal,” he said.
Little Shop of Horrors has been a whirlwind of excitement for this cast and crew. “I’m excited to see this show all in action because it’s not just a musical,” Friedman shared.
“There’s comedy, there’s relationships — incredibly complicated ones and completely stereotypical ones; good music — classic Broadway and rock; lighting — crazy and calm; two sets — one regular and one crazy. This show has everything you could want in a musical.”
Little Shop of Horrors will be running Nov. 21–23 in the Hartwell Performing Arts Center Theatre. Tickets are available for purchase here.
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!