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

The Layers of Two Leads

Ayla Shively, Owen Lawrence

The Little Shop of Horrors could not exist if not for senior Owen Lawrence ‘20, playing Seymour, and sophomore Ayla Shively ‘22, playing Audrey. These scene partners are integral in telling the show’s story of a meek flower shop assistant pining for his co-worker. When an unusual plant, named Audrey II, comes into the mix, then the real fun begins! See what Lawrence and Shively had to say on bringing the shop to life on stage and off.

Describe your role in Little Shop of Horrors.

Owen Lawrence: Seymour is basically this nerdy botanist who doesn’t exactly think he has a lot going on in his life, but when the plant comes along, it all changes for him and he tries to get out of the situation he’s in on Skid Row and move up in the world.

Ayla Shively: Audrey, in the beginning, is very closed off and reserved. She never really grew up because of all the abuse she suffered from her boyfriend Orin. We see that she has this really simplistic dream of having this house that’s pretty and simple. When she meets Seymour, he helps her open up.

How are you planning on personifying your characters?

O: Seymour definitely has to be geekier and awkward. He is introverted, but he doesn’t want to be and I’ll show that by him saying things and stuttering or other awkward behaviors.

A: Audrey needs to have this childlike innocence. For me, it’s the way she stands and that’s something I’ve really chosen to work with. She sits back in her hips and rests on one leg and it’s a way to show she doesn’t know how to support herself emotionally. Body language is the best way to show that.

What makes this role different from the roles you’ve played in the past?

O: Most of my characters have been all fairly different. But I’ve definitely never played anything like a geeky experimental botanist before. What’s most different is the way I have to compose myself. The other characters are more abstract, with Seymour, he’s such a certain type of person that it requires a lot of thinking about how he does what he does and why he does it and finding his wants and motives and using those to really become him and his unique personality.

A: In comparison to 12 Angry Jurors last year, Audrey is not as angry as that character, but I can still use some of the same techniques as to how I got emotional.

Are you, as people, similar to your characters? If not, how do you get into character?

O: I can be awkward at times, so I do know how I compose myself when I’m feeling awkward. Then I can use that for Seymour. I don’t have a whole lot of preparation, but once I’m in it and doing the lines, it all fits. There are a few different triggers that put me into the character. For example, Seymour wears glasses, so once I put on the glasses, I’m speaking in the accent.

A: One of my biggest challenges is getting into character — I’ll laugh a lot, because we have so much fun off stage. I’ll just take a deep breath, stay in the moment and think “this is where you have to be”, and that helps. I’ve found myself talking in her accent during my day!  

What do you think goes into being a lead in a musical?

The name “lead” is very fitting because you have to act as though you’re a leader of the group. A lot of people look to you as a role model of how they should act. When I was a freshman and Patrick Howard and David Hoffman were leads, they were my role models and showed me how I was supposed to act and what my energy level should be. With being a lead — yes it requires a lot of going over lines and such — but it also requires a lot of creating inter-cast relationships and an open atmosphere.

A: A lot of preparation. I’m very different from my character, so I’m constantly reading through my lines, singing through my songs. I sing through the entire show at least once every day and I’ll go through the lines with my sisters every night to make sure I’m constantly remembering and refreshing my mind. It’s a lot of hard, hard work.

What are you most excited for about Little Shop of Horrors?

O: I’m just excited to perform! I love seeing a whole show come together, especially one that’s fun and upbeat. There’s so much going on, there is the plant and all its intricacy, the music. I’m really excited for it to all to be done to a point for us to be like “wow, we’ve done this”.

A: That’s simultaneously the part I’m excited for and dreading. I’m nervous, but I’m so excited. It’s going to come together and be so good, but then it’s going to be over! What makes it so exciting, too, is the anticipation. We’ve been working on this for nearly four months!

Why performing arts at GFA?

O: This is going to sound cheesy, but the community. There are so many people who have so many different interests, but all come together for their one shared interest in performing arts or theatre. Everyone comes in with different personalities and mesh together. It’s evident by the lot of talking offstage! Also, seeing people who hadn’t hung out last year in the hallways talking. It creates a whole lot of friendships that may not have been formed before because we all have this big project we’re working on and striving to do our best and have fun doing it.

A: One thing that really drew me and surprised me is that there’s so much creativity. Students can suggest something or be a part of the actual making of it. There are so many different opportunities for kids who don’t necessarily want to act or sing. And it really is a community. You talk to people and become friends with people in different grades or people you wouldn’t normally spend time with because you have this shared goal you’re striving toward.

Why should people come see this show?

O: You should come see this show because it will be such an experience. It will be such a blast to see your friends or family on stage having a small party with a bunch of plants!

A: It’ll exciting for people who have watched the movie growing up to see it on stage and to see people who are younger in it. It gives a fresh spin to it!