A Look Backstage with ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ Director Julia McCarthy ’15

“Little Shop of Horrors” director Julia McCarthy ’15 has been busy studying acting in Boston and in Russia, and working with inner city kids at public schools in Worcester. Her most recent adventure has landed her back on College Hill directing this year’s Alternate College Theatre (ACT) production, running Feb. 2–4 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 4–5 at 2 p.m. in Fenwick Theatre.

McCarthy, an English and theatre major at the College, is no stranger to directing or ACT, having directed the 2015 ACT production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” and is excited to stage another production, now as an alumna.

We sat down with McCarthy to learn more about her work on “Little Shop of Horrors” and what her plans are after the production wraps up.

What drew you to “Little Shop of Horrors”?

When I started reading it and doing research, what really drew me was its dark humor, which is my favorite type. That’s definitely what began to inspire me and got my gears turning.

What is one of your favorite scenes, song or line in the production?

It’s hard to choose a favorite because as you go along, every scene becomes your favorite in a different way. I’d have to say the first number, “Downtown,” is one of my favorites because it is a moment where the entire cast is on stage, so it’s great energy to kick off the show. I think that the bond and the trust that we have been able to create as a cast together and the personal relationships we have formed off the stage really come across in that number.

What was one memorable moment from your work on this production?

For our last dress rehearsal, I had planned a field trip for some of the inner city kids I work with. We had forty-five students come to the rehearsal and see the show. The kids are writing questions for actors and they will answer the kids back like pen pals, so it really was a great experience on both ends.

Is there anything in particular about Holy Cross that has influenced what you have done since graduating in 2015?

Definitely the professors. They really take an interest in having a personal relationship with every student. They really make it a point to get to know everyone — your strengths, your weaknesses, and your potential. Coming into Holy Cross I never thought I would pursue theatre after graduation; I thought I would lean more on my English major. During my junior and senior years my professors really pushed me to audition for different things and to continue acting after I graduated.

What is next for you?

I’m actually going back to school this fall to get my masters in social work. I eventually hope to combine the arts and working with kids. Once I have my masters I’ll have more freedom to mold a type of program that provides access to the arts for kids. I think in theatre there are a lot of very valuable tools that you can use in everyday life.

Tickets to “Little Shop of Horrors” are $10 for members of the Holy Cross community and $15 for the general public, and can be reserved by calling the box office at 508-793-3536.