INA -- Good leaders never ask others to do something they wouldn’t be willing to do themselves.
So when the time came for someone to be fed to a man-eating Venus flytrap, Sara Alstat stepped up to the plate.
As director of Rend Lake College’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” Alstat oversaw the construction of four variations of Audrey, the famed creature from another world with a craving for human flesh.
The monster’s final incarnation had to be large enough to “swallow” a person and capable of doing so.
“That’s the one that was really challenging,” she said.
Enter Rend Lake student William Kimble of Thompsonville. Watching videos to learn the mechanics of making Audrey move, he set out without even blueprints to bring his creation to life.
“We only have about half the time and a much different budget to work with than the film,” Kimble said. “I’m doing most of it out of my head, based on pictures and videos. It’s taking a lot to make the shape just the right way and doing the mechanics of the head and jaw.”
In order for Audrey to be able to move, sing and talk, as well as swallow victims whole, the prop needs to be controlled on the inside, while still leaving room for actors to slide through its throat while being eaten.
“In the head, there will be one person controlling the mouth for when the plant eats or talks, and there will be another person controlling the whole head and the direction it goes,” Kimble said. “There will also be a bar attached below these two people for the actors to go through.”
At the base, two more people will need to help move Audrey’s throat and head. The final prop weighs about 1,000 pounds and stands about 12 feet tall.
Learning how to work with the puppeteers controlling the various versions of the creature has been an added challenge for this production, Alstat said. She gives credit to all the actors, who have had to step up their game because of several rehearsals and work days canceled due to winter weather and campus closures.
Southern Illinoisans can see the hard work pay off when Audrey comes to life on the Rend Lake stage. Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, April 3-5, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 6. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased by calling 618-437-5321 ext. 1467.
While the musical has much in common with the 1986 film starring Rick Moranis, Steve Martin and Ellen Greene, there are some differences, notably the ending, Alstat said. The Rend Lake production is rated PG.
“It’s just a funny, funny show that still has some depth to it,” she said. “It’s definitely entertaining. If you like the movie, especially, you’ll love the music.”
-- RLC Media Services contributed to this story.