Broadway director comes to Menlo School to direct ‘Little Shop of Horrors;’ FilAm plays Audrey

From left, John Horsley as Seymour, Sean Morgenthaler as Mr. Mushnik, and Tara Saha as Audrey

Broadway director and choreographer Steven Minning brings more than 30 years of professional experience to direct the high school musical production of “Little Shop of Horrors” at Menlo School in Atherton.

Minning was resident director for such famed productions as “Billy Elliot,” “The Lion King,” and “Showboat” and director/choreographer for such classics as “My Fair Lady,” “The Will Rogers Follies,” “South Pacific,” and “Annie” before moving to Portola Valley to become the new drama director at Menlo School. Minning also directed numerous corporate and special events, including the 1994 World Cup opening ceremonies in New York and Boston and the 1994 Coca-Cola Olympic reception in Atlanta.

For his first production at Menlo School, Minning felt “Little House of Horrors” was an “appropriate” introduction, noting that the school’s “talent pool is very strong.”

“Little Shop of Horrors” is “a very well-constructed show that’s become a classic in musical theatre history,” Minning said. “Timelessness translates beautifully in a wide range of scenarios.”

Broadway’s Steven Minning

“Little Shop of Horrors” is the story of Seymour Krelborn, a nerdy employee at Mushnik’s Skid Row Florist Shop, his coworker and love interest Audrey, and a mysterious plant that attracts business to the shop.

Senior student and Filipino American Tara Saha, 16, who plays Audrey, said, “The characters are serious about and live completely in their own little B movie…. It’s taken a lot of work to build the different layers of (Audrey’s) character and make it … something the audience can sympathize with.”

Junior John Horsley said he enjoys playing Seymour “with all his flaws and strengths,” adding that the musical is driven “by the character’s motive.”

Saha and Horsley come from the highly successful run of “Spamalot” last spring. Saha also played the lead as “Lady of the Lake.”

Senior Sean Morgenthaler, who plays Mr. Mushnik, is “having fun transforming myself into Mr. Mushnik.” Morgenthaler, a first-time musical performer, credited the new director for his “great learning experience.”

Senior Jordan Vasquez, who plays multiple roles including Orin, the dentist, admitted it is challenging to play many characters, adding that he needed to “make sure they don’t overlap with each other.”

The cast members shared an enthusiasm and excitement over the new production. Freshman Maya Donato saw it as “a great chance to bond with upperclassmen.” Morgenthaler noted the cast’s “cohesion” while Vasquez thought this is “one of the best casts I’ve worked with.” Horsley added, “Everyone is working very hard.”

“Little Shop of Horrors” goes on stage November 1 to 3 at Menlo School’s Florence Moore Theater. Tickets are available at the door and at the Menlo Bookstore by emailing tickets@menloschool.org.

The cast



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