Ashland High Theatre department students rehearse

Performing a play is a little like riding a bicycle. Once it's perfected, the script is etched on the brain.

Ashland High School cast members of "Little Shop of Horrors" called upon those mental reserves as they scrambled to resurrect their fall performance of the musical this weekend, months after the final curtain fell.

They were one of three high school groups chosen to perform in the Oregon State Thespian Conference at the Craterian Theater in Medford on April 3. They will offer two public showings on March 31 and April — at 7:30 p.m. in the high school theater to get back in performance mode.

"They're doing great," said director Chris Williams. "I think they're going to be just fine. It's like riding a bicycle."

Once the winter performance of "Beauty and the Beast" closed, the students, many of whom were in both productions, began re-rehearsing "Little Shop of Horrors." They squeezed in extra rehearsals, including one the Friday afternoon before spring break, and worked to reconfigure the set for the Craterian's smaller stage. The set was designed for easy reconstruction in hopes the show would be chosen for the state event, because the elaborate 2007 set forced the group to drop out of the running for state.

Just before she left for a spring break trip to Mexico, dancer Ally Backus hustled to relearn steps suddenly reversed from the original show to fit the smaller space.

"The show is coming up a lot faster than we anticipated. I think it's going to be even better than before," she said. "The hardest part is going to be remembering to go the other direction."

The biggest hitch at rehearsals seemed to be the missing lead, Josh Houghton, who was out sick and preparing for a spring break trip to Colorado to rehearse for a national festival. But stage manager Chloe Landes-Michelli read his lines from the audience, with confidence that he would return with his singing voice back to full strength.

"We come back and have a performance right after spring break, so it's a little crazy," she said. "But they've been amazing. They haven't forgotten anything, really."

Bella Pribyl, the female lead who performs opposite Houghton, said his absence made her role harder, but she was mostly just happy to be going to state.

"I was so excited," Pribyl said. "I would be at rehearsal all day long if they wanted me to."

Tickets for the public showings are available at the high school main office, the Music Coop, Treehouse Books and Paddington Station. Monday's performance is $5 and Tuesday's is $10.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or .