IC Students Produce Musical in Downtown Flower Shop

By Maddie Veneziano ’20, May 3, 2019
Site-specific “Little Shop of Horrors” celebrates Bool’s Flower Shop’s 125th anniversary.

If you walked into Bool’s Flower Shop during their regular business hours in late April, you might see customers browsing or staff preparing flower arrangements — nothing out of the ordinary. But come 7:30 p.m., Bool’s would be filled with props, lights, actors and spectators enjoying a production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”

The brains behind this unique twist on the horror comedy musical about a floral shop worker who raises a man-eating plant from outer space was producer Jacob Stuckelman ’19, a theatre studies student at Ithaca College. Stuckelman and his crew of IC students — cast, creative team and orchestra — held an initial run of six performances from April 24-28. Due to high demand, they extended the run with three additional performances.

Stuckelman was inspired to stage the show after he saw a site-specific production of “Ragtime” on Ellis Island. In site-specific theatre, the production is staged in a location where the majority of the plot takes place.

“Site-specific theatre is a way to enhance traditional storytelling and adds layers of specificity and realism that can't be achieved through other mediums,” said Stuckelman. “What excited me about this production is that Seymour and Audrey's world was inside the flower shop while our reality was right outside the front doors.”

A man posing in a flower shop

Lead producer Jacob Stuckelman in Bool’s Flower Shop. (Photo by M. Johnson Photography)

Site-specific theatre presents many challenges for its organizers. Since Bool’s operates as a business during the day, Stuckelman and his team thought they had to set up their props, lighting, seating and other equipment for each night of rehearsals and performances, then take them down when they finished so that the shop could continue selling flowers the next day. Luckily, Stuckelman and Bool’s owner Doreen Culver Foss came up with an agreement to leave their lighting equipment at the flower shop during their normal business hours.

Acting in a working flower shop posed challenges for the actors as well. The stage was set up in the theatrical round, so that the audience could be immersed into the space. “The cast has to angle themselves differently so people can see them,” said Courtney Long ’21, who played Ronnette in the show.

Stuckelman approached the owners of Bool’s Flower Shop in downtown Ithaca with his proposed production back in the fall of 2018, with the shop set to celebrate its 125th anniversary. He worked hard to make sure that Bool’s was involved in the production.

“I didn’t want to produce this and have the flower shop feel disconnected,” said Stuckelman. “I wanted the shop’s owners to feel safe and trusted in the process.”

Stuckelman said one of the biggest takeaways from this experience has been the trust he has built with the team at Bool’s and getting to see how theatre can bring people together.

“At the end of the day, that’s why theatre is so special,” he said. “It brings together people who are not traditionally theatre lovers or who have not experienced the arts in a certain way, creating a sense of community and combined happiness at a time where there’s so much contention in our world.”