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VISD takes on 'Little Shop of Horrors' (w/video)

By Carolina Astrain
Jan. 7, 2014 at 7 p.m.
Updated Jan. 6, 2014 at 7:07 p.m.

Jacob Matejek, playing Seymour, reacts to the carnivorous talking plant, Audrey II, during a practice run for the upcoming show "Little Shop of Horrors."

Austin Johnson, 17, sits hot and sweaty inside his flesh-eating plant costume.

Austin, along with other Victoria school district students, gathered at the Victoria Fine Arts Center on Saturday for a technical rehearsal of "Little Shop of Horrors."

This year's annual VISD musical marks the district's history books as its first collaborative production by the city's two rival high schools - Victoria West High School and Victoria East High School.

"It's been a really good socializing experience to be able to interact with the other school's theater department," said Austin, a Victoria West junior. "I've really enjoyed it."

Although Austin controls his character's movements in "Little Shop of Horrors," Audrey II's is voiced by Patti Welder Middle School Principal Richard Wright.

Randy Watchel, the VISD Fine Arts Center's manager, directs the show.

"It's been a wonderful experience," Watchel said. "I've seen the students hit that moment where they really connect with their characters; you can see it happen on stage."

The district's Fine Arts Department has invested $11,000 into the show so far, Watchel said.

Last year's musical, "The Wizard of Oz" cost the department $8,000 to produce.

A large chunk of the money is used to pay for show royalties, which cost the department $3,800 for "Little Shop of Horrors," said Ken Peach, VISD director of fine arts.

"We'll make it back in ticket sales," Peach said. "That's standard for musicals."

Last year's ticket sales for the "Wizard of Oz" brought in $12,000, Watchel said.

Other money from the show's budget was spent to invest in the high-tech costumes and props used in the show.

By recruiting students from both high schools, the talent pool was doubled.

"It's just a great way to showcase the fine arts as a whole," Peach said. "We've got kids from the visual arts program, choir kids and musicians all part of the production."

All rehearsals took place after school, which made students responsible for getting to the VISD Fine Arts Center for practice.

"It's worth mentioning the dedication these kids have put forth for the show," Watchel said. "Theater is all about magic, and how often do you get to see a talking plant on stage?"



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