Harlem High drama students don't want the public to feed the plants, but they do hope they'll support the program.
Though the school has one of the top drama departments in the state, having won numerous state and region titles, the program has suffered this year.
When Grovetown High opened in August, Harlem lost 25 experienced drama students and 40 percent of its drama budget to the new school.
"That kind of hurt, but it's not to say that we still don't have a lot of talented kids," said Harlem High drama teacher Roy Lewis, who directs the school's spring musical, Little Shop of Horrors , opening Wednesday. "That made the group that was here even more committed and more focused on what we needed to do."
The opening of Grovetown High also dwindled Lewis' drama classes from 148 students last school year to just 42 at the start of this school year. To keep his status as a full-time teacher, Lewis took on some special needs classes and a period supervising in-school suspension.
"I've worked hard all year to get my numbers up and strengthen the program," he said. "I've actually doubled my number. I have 90 students enrolled, but with the budget cuts I still only can have three drama classes."
State lawmakers currently are slashing the budget to compensate for a more than $1 billion revenue deficit. Those cuts include lost funding for education and the Georgia Council for the Arts, which Lewis said further hurts his program.
With the cuts, Lewis said state education officials are focusing the dollars they do have on core subjects such as math and science.
"It's difficult to pursue a career in the arts, but cutting arts from school programs and limiting those opportunities is really sad," he said. "The arts help formulate a well-rounded individual. I believe arts and math and science can strengthen each other."
Lewis' student losses also factored heavily in his decision to stage Little Shop of Horrors , a black comedy from Alan Menken and Howard Ashman featuring a man-eating plant.
"I did All Shook Up last year, but I had 42 kids in the show," he said. "This year ... I have 20."
But a smaller cast presents larger challenges, Lewis said.
"I stayed away from Little Shop of Horrors so long because it's technically a hard show to do," he said. "In other shows, you'd have five kids in the chorus singing the same song, so if one forgot a line the others compensated. Not anymore. The kids really have to know their stuff."
Tickets for Little Shop of Horrors are $10. Make reservations by calling (706) 556-5980 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The musical starts Wednesday and runs through Saturday at the Harlem High auditorium. All shows start at 7 p.m., with a 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday.
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