Summerstock Toledo to present ‘Little Shop of Horrors’Written by Chase Will | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Over 35 Ohio high school students are out to show what young adults can create when given total artistic freedom.
For its fifth year, Summerstock Toledo will put an entire theatrical production in the hands of youth.
“I don’t think many people believe students are capable of handling all the backstage duties or being authoritative enough to run each other,” said Thomas Rabuano, co-producer of Summerstock. “But when you put a show completely in students’ hands, what they come up with is absolutely wonderful.”
Responsibilities include acting, directing, producing, set design, advertisement and fundraising.
“I think the common view among older people is that our generation spends all our time goofing off and playing videogames, but that’s not true at all,” said David Henninger, co-producer.
As recent high school graduates, Rabuano and Henninger said Summerstock has given them tools necessary to pursue careers in theater.
“It really helps us make that transition between high school, where we have to raise our hand to go to the bathroom, and college, where we can do whatever we want,” Henninger said.
One student is assigned to each area of production, with the exception of advertising and areas where multiple people are needed. The orchestra pit also consists mainly of students, with the exception of a few adult volunteers.
Although students make every decision in the production process, an adult moderator is on set to provide guidance.
Each year the Summerstock budget begins at $0, which makes fundraising one of its biggest challenges.
“We begin each year with nothing in our bank account, and throughout the summer we use fundraisers and donations from outside businesses to raise all the money to make production happen,” Henninger said.
Many students on the production team plan on careers in theater, but Henninger said many students with very little experience in theater have stepped out of their comfort zones to participate.
“It’s just amazing when you see what students can really do when they’re passionate about something like this. Everyone puts hard work into what they’re doing, whether they’re designing the set or working on choreography,” Rabuano said.
Students eligible to participate in Summerstock have completed their freshman year of high school, and are able to participate until graduation.
According to Henninger, Summerstock teaches interpersonal skills in an on-the-job setting.
“You have to communicate with your partners and touch base with them, checking in with everyone else on the production staff before making serious decisions,” Henninger said.
“People think with all the technology involved it’s really easy to communicate, but it can also make situations more difficult with misunderstandings, whether it’s simple things or big decisions,” Rabuano said.
This season the Summerstock board chose “Little Shop of Horrors,” a family-friendly black comedy.
This play follows Seymour, the unfortunate florist who stumbles across a carnivorous R&B-singing plant named Audrey II. As the foul-mouthed plant develops a taste for human blood, it’s up to Seymour to prevent its quest for world domination.
“We chose this show because it’s fun for all ages, and it provides the small cast experience you really can’t find anywhere else,” Henninger said.
As a nonprofit organization, Summerstock seeks a different Toledo venue each year.
This year’s production will be held at McQuade Theater at St. John Jesuit High School, 5901 Airport Hwy. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Aug 1-2 and 2 p.m. Aug 3. Tickets are $8 for students, $10 for adults or $12 for preferred seating (first three rows), available at the door.