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Giant, Man-Eating Plant Takes Over Mello Center

Watsonville High is putting on the Broadway play 'A Little Shop of Horrors' at the Mello Center this weekend.

Watsonville High’s drama department is adding a menacing and hilarious ingredient to this year’s springtime musical: a giant, man-eating plant.

“It starts as a small hand puppet and then grows into this very large scary thing that eats human beings, it’s a huge prop and we have some cool effects,” said director Kip Allert.

The Broadway production, A Little Shop of Horrors, is a black comedy and it's WHS’s fourth musical in four years. The play is being put on at the Mello Center for the Performing Arts, a state-of-the-art auditorium with 750 seats.

Senior Nikki Gonzales, 18, describes it as two stories in one; the evolution of the man-eating plant and the love story between her character “Audrey,” and her characters’ coworker “Seymore” (who created the plant which may or may not be the demise of Audrey in the end.)

“It kind of pokes fun at romantic movies with sci-fi,” she said.

Gonzales’s character is a materialistic girl who grows up poor in Skid Row and dreams of a place far away, “where everyone has the same square lawn and a washing machine and a toaster,” laughed Gonzales.

The voice of the man-eating plant is played by Christopher Ramiriz, 18, whose real life role as a class clown makes him a natural for the unusual role of a man-eating plant.

"He’s a plant from outer space, you know, so you have to put so much character into it. I love it, just being on stage in front of everybody and just be a whole other person. I get to make people laugh, and I enjoy doing that," said Ramirez, who thinks it would be cool to open up a comedy club some day. (In Watsonville, we hope!)

The man-eating plant he describes as: evil, “but he's like a sweet talker so he can talk anybody into doing anything he wants," says Ramirez.

The play will also feature a live band—not of students, though, since Watsonville High doesn’t have a band department. 

“It makes it hard to put on musicals" said Allert, who says the band is hired. "So we usually do a rehearsal for three months and during that time we give them [the students] voice lessons and dance lessons and for some of them it’s the first time they’ve ever sung or danced,” said Allert.

“The shows still rock because the kids are so enthusiastic and so talented and they pick up things so fast at this age," he said. 

For those with little ones, short attention spans, and super busy lives in need of a good laugh, this show is made for you. The script is straight forward, engaging, and brisk.

“It’s an hour and a half, really to the point, no excess fat you gotta trim off, everything is all right there,” said Allert. 

Break a leg Watsonville High!

A Little Shop of Horrors plays at the Henry J. Mello Center at 250 East Beach street. Showtimes are: Friday, May 4th at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, May 5th at 7:30 p.m. with doors opening at 7 p.m. On Sunday there is a matinee at 2 p.m., with doors opening at 1:30 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.watsonvillehs.net and at Celebrations Party and Rentals, 1459 Freedom Blvd and Crossroads Books, 1935 Main Street, both in Watsonville. Advance tickets are $7.

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