‘Little Shop of Horrors’ feeds school record for Liberty drama awards

June 12, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

Photos from Issaquah School District At left, seniors Sierra Hunt (Audrey) and Tucker Goodman (Seymour) perform in Liberty High School’s ‘Little Shop of Horrors.’ Above, carnivorous plant Audrey II (Sheady Manning-Bruce, Natalie Gress and Addison Halpin-Higman) convinces Goodman to feed it.

Liberty High School performers — and a scene-stealing, man-eating plant — snapped up more awards than any other high school drama program in a statewide competition June 4.

The school received four trophies for a recent production of “Little Shop of Horrors” in The 5th Avenue Theatre’s annual awards to recognize musical theater at high schools across the Evergreen State. The honor is akin to a Tony Award for student performers and productions.

“Little Shop of Horrors” garnered awards for Outstanding Music Direction for choir director Robin Wood, Outstanding Scenic Design, Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role and the top honor, Outstanding Overall Musical Production.

“We have a strong production team and strong talent,” said Katherine Klekas, longtime Liberty drama program director. “I think that was what made this one so special is that it was consistent across the board.”

The campy musical revolved around a carnivorous plant, Audrey II, a puppet comprised of limbs and vines crafted for the performance.

Jeremy Dodd earned the Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role honor for a turn as a floral shop proprietor.

The sophomore donned a bald cap and extensive makeup to transform from a teenager to the curmudgeonly Mr. Mushnik.

“He’s a natural actor,” Klekas said. “He’s really fun to work with.”

The awards, presented in a glitzy ceremony at The 5th Avenue Theatre, included a performance from nominated actors and actresses. Liberty performers offered a rendition of the classic “Little Shop of Horrors” number “Skid Row (Downtown)” for the 2,100-member theater audience.

Tucker Goodman, a Liberty senior nominated for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, sang “The Meek Shall Inherit” — a “Little Shop of Horrors” song from the timid protagonist, Seymour.

Overall, the awards program included 191 nominations and 99 honorable mentions. Liberty performers garnered 13 nominations for “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Statewide, 93 productions representing more than 9,000 students applied for consideration in the annual awards.

Liberty started participating in the awards program in 2005. “Seussical” in 2006 received 11 nods, the most nominations a Liberty show received before “Little Shop of Horrors.”

“It’s never a sure thing,” Klekas said. “There was a lot of really, really strong productions, so you just never know.”

Issaquah High School earned honorable mention recognition for Outstanding Musical Direction for a fall production of “Fiddler on the Roof” — the debut musical at the school’s Performing Arts Center.

Klekas credited students dedicated to technical aspects and stage performances, supportive parents and connections to Village Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre and Seattle Children’s Theatre. Professionals from the theaters offer guidance to students in the Liberty program.

“Little Shop of Horrors” also bears the distinction as the last show presented at the existing Liberty performing arts center. The school is scheduled to open a rebuilt performing arts center during the 2012-13 school year.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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