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Tech crews create monster plant, big sets for "Little Shop"

Anthony Eldridge stands in one of the renditions of Audrey II he designed and will operate for the show. He holds a puppet of Audrey created by his cousin Alice Billin, which helped inspire the design. (Photo by Erin Plummer) (click for larger version)
March 16, 2017
Gilford High School's coming production of "Little Shop of Horrors" will star a giant, monster plant along with an antique dentist chair and complicated sets, all created arranged by members of the tech crew.

"'Little Shop' is a crazy and funny show and the set is very challenging," said GHS auditorium director Scott Piddington.

The specifications for the set are outlined in the script, requiring a revolving set where multiple scenes can take place in multiple locations.

"You put them all together and say, 'Well I guess it has to be like this,'" Piddington said.

Piddington said with a large stage GHS can do a lot of things that would have been more difficult with a smaller stage.

Senior Jacob Davis took the requirements in the script and helped lay out the set in a CAD program.

"It was pretty complicated, we had to make sure it can spin completely without hitting something," Davis said.

One of the show's main characters is the human-eating plant Audrey II. Audrey has three different forms in the show as a small sapling, a large bud, and a gigantic plant with a slide where the people she "eats" go down a slide.

Senior Anthony Eldridge designed, helped build, and plays Audrey in the show.

Eldridge said he has been familiar with the play for a while, especially through his cousin Alice Billin.

"She loves the show and I've seen what the plant's supposed to look," Eldridge said.

Eldridge said Billin has made little puppets that look like Audrey, which he used as inspiration for the design.

There are four different structures for Audrey representing her different stages of growth.

The first is the sapling made from a football that was cut in half and covered in tape and felt.

The larger versions were constructed with a frame of plastic piping, wood pieces, and metal mesh covered in spray foam. The final version is a huge structure with a mouth the size of a person along with a stalk and leaves.

Eldridge started working on Audrey the second week in February right after the end of the middle school play. He said he has never worked on a project like this before.

Eldridge will be onstage operating the plant while Josh Testa will do Audrey's voice offstage. Eldridge said he and Testa have been practicing and coordinating.

"I am very proud of this whole debacle, it's been a fun experiment," Eldridge said.

He said he has seen puppeteers and has been curious about pursuing that art.

"It certainly does seem like a fun field to go into," Eldridge said.

He said he might not go right into it in college, but it is something he is still interested in.

The set includes an antique dentist chair leant to the production by Jeff Crowell, dentist with a practice in Laconia and a Gilford resident. Piddington is Crowell's patient and said Crowell has siblings who have been a part of the GHS theater program. The chair was his grandfather's dentist chair.

"They used to play on it when he was a kid," Piddington said.

The 320-pound chair is raised and lowered through a trap door with an elevator.

Members of the tech crew are now putting the finishing touches on the sets.

Junior Lou Lacroix has been doing tech for the past three and a half years. She said her favorite part is show week.

"It's probably one of the most intense environments I've been in," Lacroix said.

Junior Jacob Deyarmond has been doing tech since freshman year.

"I enjoy it a lot, if I could do it for a living I certainly would," Deyarmond said.

He said he also enjoys show week.

"It's just a bunch of chaotic fun," Deyarmond said.

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