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The College of St. Scholastica

Planning a theatre production in the midst of a global pandemic poses some challenges, but it also creates opportunities for ingenuity. Little Shop of Horrors opens on Feb. 24 with an impressive cast of principles and understudies. The decision came after Merry Renn Vaughan, associate professor and show director, was forced to cancel a show she was directing last fall.

“We had to cancel due to COVID after only one performance because we did not have any understudies to go on in place of the actors,” Vaughan said. “I didn’t want that to happen again.” In preparation for the show, Vaughan and musical director Sharon Dixon Obst cast an understudy for each of the production’s four main leads with a rewarding twist: they would also have the opportunity to perform.

“Sharon and I were talking about understudies and how much work they put into a production and they almost never get to be on stage,” said Vaughan. “Sharon suggested that we plan to have the understudies perform at least one of the performances, so we decided they would do the Sunday matinees.”

Quinn Muhich, who plays the role of Mushnik, shared how understudies have helped diversify the show. “Not only does it help to have an understudy in case someone is sick, but it helps showcase other actors’ work and add a different dynamic to the production.”

In total, there are nearly 50 members of the St. Scholastica community who are contributing to the sci-fi musical including students, alumni, faculty, staff and guest artists. Alum Charley Hagen ‘21 created two promotional videos (Audrey II is Coming for You: Part 1 of 2; Audrey II is Coming for You: Part 2 of 2) and will lend his musical talent as a percussionist during the show. Eight students also share the common experience of participating or having participated in Vaughan’s first-year experience class All the World’s a Stage.

Evening performances will be at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 24, 25 and 26 and March 3, 4 and 5. Sunday matinees will be at 2 p.m. on Feb. 27 and March 6. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, $5 for Scholastica students with ID and free for Sisters of the St. Scholastica Monastery.