When freshman CTE Theatre student Zoe Lulu learned that AVPA was mounting “Little Shop of Horrors” for the spring musical, she was first in line to audition. While many of the other students were lining up to audition for Audrey, leading man Seymour’s love interest, Zoe lined up to audition for Audrey 2. Audrey 2 is a people-eating plant. But Zoe didn’t try out to play the role of the plant. She auditioned for a part in which she’ll never be seen or heard. She auditioned to be a puppeteer behind the plant.
No stranger to the stage and performing, Zoe has played the violin since she was 5, debuting her talent as a first-grader in Lin Howe’s very first talent show. She honed her violin skills with music teacher Mr. Pascoe at Lin Howe, and with Mr. Witt in the CCMS Orchestra.
In her final year at Lin Howe, puppeteering was more than just a pipe dream for Zoe as she performed a ventriloquist act with her own puppet, Slappy, for the talent show. Slappy made another appearance when Zoe brought him on stage during Young Storyteller’s Big Show. Young Storytellers is part of CCUSD’s Front & Center Theatre Collaborative, an initiative supported by the Culver City Education Foundation (CCEF) to provide K-12th-grade theater arts programming to all CCUSD students. Zoe participated in Young Storytellers as a fifth-grader. Her original story, chosen as one of the top 10 in the region, was being performed in front of a live audience at The Ace Theatre. When Zoe stood up to take her bows, Slappy was by her side.
Under the magical direction of Lee Margaret Hanson, all departments play a role to put on the big show. In addition to Theatre Performance (actors) and Technical Theatre (crew), dance teacher Carol Zee choreographed the show, Music Director Dr. Tony Spano leads the talented music students who make up the live orchestra, Film students record the production; and Visual Artist Amelia Kamin created the poster art.
But this show requires another level of effort from all hands on deck.
“This is the most elaborate set and technically challenging show we’ve ever produced,” said J.D. Sargent, technical director of the Robert Frost Auditorium. Under the tutelage of Technical Theatre teacher Joshua Keh, the crew built the set entirely from scratch, from the ground up. It’s huge and it has to move. The property department spent long hours creating a rich world for the colorful characters, dressed by a creative costume crew, to inhabit. And, yes, there are puppets, multiples representing the growth stages of Audrey 2. As lead puppeteer, Zoe is first on stage as baby Audrey 2. When Audrey 2 makes her final appearance, Benji Corburn and Cassandra Aulisio join Zoe in pulling the plant’s strings.
After two long years of COVID-19 restrictions and being away from the Frost, the entire cast and crew are thrilled to be back on stage live, all together, with their community. The actor who will sing the part of Audrey 2, CCHS senior Kyle Irish-Hall, loves the show for the fantastic score, and “because the ending is sure to surprise you.”
When you hear Kyle, as Audrey 2, singing, “Feed Me, Seymour,” remember all the people behind the plant. Audrey 2 can’t come to life without them.
Don’t miss this show. There are eight performances to choose from March 3-6 and March 10-13. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, please purchase tickets in advance here.
Photo Caption- Zoe Lulu at SHEROcon 2020 wining the Kids Cosplay Contest
Note: AVPA is sponsoring special Feed Me Fridays on Friday, March 4 and Friday, March 11. Bring a non-perishable food item and get $1 off your ticket price. All food will be donated to FeedCulver.org, a free meal program administered through Grace Lutheran Church, started when COVID hit in spring 2020. The group is currently in need of peanut butter in plastic jars, jelly in plastic jars, individual oatmeal packs, protein bars, cereal (large and small packages), tomato sauces, dried pasta, soup (pop top cans only please), tuna (pop-top cans only), crackers, and any other little snack pack items.