Have you ever imagined what kind of flower shop would have a human-eating plant that sings about its taste for human flesh? Imagine no more. Coming this April, Ithaca’s own Bool’s Flower Shop will be hosting an Ithaca College theater student production of Alan Menkin’s “Little Shop of Horrors.”
The rock musical, comedy horror about the man-eating plant Audrey II will be playing at the flower shop on April 24 through 28, with six performances. The site-specific show was the brainchild of Ithaca College senior, Jacob Stuckelman, the show’s producer.
“I’ve always wanted to do a show in a new, different, unique space,” Stuckelman said. “The biggest thing for me was getting the flower shop on board. As artists, we have crazy ideas all the time, but the biggest thing is trust, making sure the flower shop is comfortable.”
The idea has been developing over several years as Stuckelman has been living in Ithaca and going to school. He has had several opportunities to live and work in New York City and experience all kinds of theater, including site-specific theater. The idea of putting on a classic like “Little Shop of Horrors” in an actual flower shop isn’t new, Stuckelman said, he’s just crazy enough to do it. Over the past year or so he has really started to do the necessary research to get the show put together.
After looking into his options in the area, he knew Bools was the place he wanted to put on the show. It has the necessary space and the shop’s aesthetic and history give it a flare that Stuckelman couldn’t find elsewhere.
“I’m really fortunate that they said yes and are willing to work with us,” he said. “That’s the beauty of theater. Taking people that aren’t traditional theater artists and making them excited about the project you’re working on because theater inherently brings people together.”
Stuckelman approached Bools last year with a mysterious offer for a unique opportunity. When he sat down with one of the shop’s managers, Christa Siering, he gave her the full pitch, complete with an entire show plan. Siering brought the idea to the store’s owner, Doreen Culver-Foss, who was intrigued by the idea but had some reservations.
“Over the course of that month we really talked her through everything,” he said. “We’ve developed a really great relationship.”
Now, Stuckelman has the trust of the staff so he can easily walk me around the shop, to the basement and the garage, to explain just how a show like this is going to work.
In September of last year, Stuckelman started putting together his creative team, starting with his co-producer Ben Fleischer, also an Ithaca College student. Together they created a 20-person administrative team, before even getting the rights for the show. But the team couldn’t wait around for the rights. April will be here before you know it and a show like this takes a lot of coordination and preparation. Once the rights were approved the marketing team created the website, littleshopofbools.com, and now the creative team is in the process of casting and creating the aesthetic of the show.
Because the production will be put on in a working business not originally designed for the purpose of theater, Stuckelman has been working with the City of Ithaca to get all of the necessary permits required. Thankfully, the space already meets many of the required aspects to get the necessary permits. The store will be open during normal business hours on the performance days and after each performance, the team will take down the lights, props, and audience chairs and return the shop to its usual layout.
The performance will use some elements already in place at the shop, like the checkout counter, some of the tables set up to prepare bouquets and plants, and possibly an old flower cooler currently being used for storage and display. The audience will be set up in a semi-circle in the front space of the shop facing the main counter. With a basement and a garage that the store is letting the production use if they need to, Stuckelman said it’s like Bools was made for this show.
“I encourage anyone who is interested in seeing the show to come down to the shop and look around,” he said. “It’s really, really remarkable.”
While Stuckelman has had experience working on more serious shows with socially relevant critiques, he knows that fun, campy theater like “Little Shop of Horrors” also has an important role in the arts and entertainment world. This is art that allows you to leave your troubles at the door and sit down for a laugh, even if just for a few hours.
The show is entirely self-funded and is raising money through a GoFundMe campaign that can be found on the show’s website. As of this writing, the campaign has raised $4,762 of its $18,000 goal.
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