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A blood-thirsty plant grows at this Port Coquitlam high school

"Little Shop of Horrors" is the 2022 musical by students at Archbishop Carney Regional Secondary in Port Coquitlam.

The last theatrical production that students at Archbishop Carney Regional Secondary put on for the public was James and the Giant Peach.

And their timing was impeccable.

Less than three weeks after the run ended at the Terry Fox Theatre in Port Coquitlam, the provincial government declared a state of emergency.

The extended lockdown on gatherings meant no show in 2021 and, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a scaled-down performance for 2022.

Or at least that’s what the director/producer anticipated.

When drama teacher Charles Harris called for auditions last September, he planned for a small cast and crew to meet the physical distancing restrictions on Little Shop of Horrors.

But when the Omicron variant broke out in December, Harris wasn’t sure there was going to be a show at all so he bumped its opening from February to May.

Now, with gatherings back in full swing, Harris said he’s got a full roster of people who are equally anxious to bring back live theatre.

“Our orchestra started with just five,” Harris told the Tri-City News on Tuesday (May 3). “Then it just kept going. People were excited to get back to the stage.”

In total, Harris is leading 66 cast and crew members — including 22 in the orchestra pit, under the direction of Mallory Schille— to tell the musical story about a blood-thirsty plant.

Bennett Renaud is cast as the meek shop assistant Seymour, while Carly Warner, also Grade 12, is playing his muse Audrey.

They’ve been cautiously rehearsing since September, three times a week after school for two hours, “and we’re happy to finally have people see it,” Warner, 17, said.

Harris said he picked the pair because of their natural acting, singing and dancing talents. Warner was a Mellado Dance Elite student for 12 years before COVID hit, while Renaud has been with Showstoppers Academy for 11 years (this month, he also plays Gaston in its musical theatre production of Beauty and the Beast).

Outside of school, Warner and Renaud have also teamed up for musical theatre studies. Last summer, they were part of the Arts Club’s musical theatre intensive for students, taught by the founder Peter Jorgensen.

There, Warner said she gained the confidence to sing in public. “I leaned how to come out of my shell. It gave me more courage,” she said, noting she also won a scholarship at the end of the program.

• Little Shop of Horrors runs May 18 to 21 at Terry Fox Theatre (1260 Riverwood Gate, Port Coquitlam). For tickets at $15, visit