Madness at Millikan

Sophie Barnes, Carly Hollander and Gabriel Sean Elias (Mrs. Muchnick, Audrey and Seymour holding the plant Audrey 2) in Millikan School’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” The Arts live in Sherman Oaks!

I want to Talk about how thrilling it must be for a young student appearing in a Musical Comedy while attending Middle School. Homework takes a lot of time and there are many pressing extra curricular activities and chores at home, but somehow a group of youngsters found the time to learn and brilliantly perform The Little Shop of Horrors, something that is very close to home for me.

As I was putting about in my garden, Maria, my neighbor from down the street, mentioned that her son’s school was doing Little Shop. The only thing I knew about Millikan is that it’s our place to vote. I was surprised (and my inner child was jealous) to learn that this is not only a Middle School but also a Performing Arts Magnet. Also a Civics, Science and Math Academy. It puts a new light on the kids that walk by my house after school; thanks to them our future is in capable hands. Now, I’m talking about the show and my neighbor’s son and the life changing Little Shop of Horrors.

Literally, at the end of 1959, the last two days to be exact, Roger Corman directed this bizarre and now cult film. I played Audrey, the namesake of the formidable plant, and did not get eaten (by the plant) in this original version that inspired the young writers Howard Ashman and Alan Menken to write a dazzling off Broadway musical of the same name. This wonderful musical, in turn, inspired a big smash movie. And to this day, it will never go away.

Little Shop of Horrors will be featured at Monsterpalooza open at the Marriot Burbank Hotel and Convention Center on April 8 through the 10. Big doings with many monsters. Jonathan Haze, the original Seymour, and I will be there along with the Plant! (The show knows I have to be gone April 9 until the afternoon, due to my Actors and Others for Animals Celebration of Caring.) Looking forward to this major monster gathering to see all the sweet fans.

I am now a huge fan of Millikan Middle School. David and I, along with John and Dorene Martin, attended their show out of respect for my young neighbor Gabriel Sean Elias, who played Seymour. We left full of awe. For Gabe, the cast, the teachers and the school. Even the audience was fabulous. And the Pit Choir added melodious splendor along with the musicians! The parents were so part of the effort. Lucky students.

I just had a brief chat with Gabriel, now a 7th grader at Millikan, to ask him if he recovered from the terrific task. Here are a few quotes:

“It was such an amazing experience! The Plant was a great accomplishment, both in the making and the puppeteering. For most of the kids, it was the best thing they’ve ever done. It gave us confidence. Some school shows and even colleges have not been as good as this one. And the programs are not just a few pieces of paper; it was designed by Rob Hollander (the father of Carly who played Audrey with me. And the set, the details — so good. This will be a bond that we will always talk about. And the teachers, oh my God, they put together two casts. Mr. Krubsack (Leo), is the funniest person; Miss Weiss is such a great dancer; Miss Love was wonderful — so much creativity.”

That about says it: creativity. The Arts do heighten a person, enriching the students’ experience. How great that there is a school like Millikan that still honors the Arts.

We’ll Talk…