Davenport Central High School's theater students staged "Little Shop of Horrors" this year, and that title is one description for what the cast and crew have gone through to put on a show this year.
Central's theater department has been without a normal stage all school year: The new auditorium is set to be unveiled in early May, and the former space was repurposed.
In the meantime, the actors have practiced in hallways — with other students striding through their scenes at times in Central's cafeteria, in the basement at one student's home and at the Blue Grass home of the drama teacher, Thea IntVeld.
IntVeld spoke on a cellphone as she sped home to where the students were waiting to begin a practice for the spring musical, "Beauty and the Beast."
If the musical sounds familiar, that's because it is now a hit Disney movie and also was recently staged at Bettendorf High School.
The Central version is going to be staged at West High School, and IntVeld could not stop giggling at times as she listed the number of issues the students have faced this year.
The drama students should be appreciated for what they've gone through but still put on quality shows, said IntVeld, who was teaching in Colorado when she was hired eight years ago by Davenport schools.
Some of the issues:
• When practicing for "Little Shop of Horrors," the performers used Central's hallways for rehearsal space. They posted signs about what they were doing, but other students would inevitably walk through a scene, IntVeld said.
• The next production was "A Streetcar Named Desire." At first, the hallways were used for rehearsals, but that space was too loud when practicing for the intense drama. The students ended up in Central's cafeteria, where they were interrupted by other folks who use the space, including weightlifters, the boy's basketball team before games and, one time, a program to rent tuxes for prom.
• Finally, they met in the basement at one student's home until they could get into the rehearsal space at West. IntVeld said they had just one dress rehearsal and then staged the show "without any issues."
"In all three performances, the audiences would not have known that the kids didn't practice as usual," she said.
She thinks the students are "numb" from lack of practice space. There has been a lot of sharing going on, IntVeld said, adding there are 46 students in Central's performing arts program.
The teacher is thankful for help that's come from the Davenport Community School District, as well as outside businesses, such as Advance Homes. The construction firm built a castle for the musical and is storing it until she can get the stage time at West.
Storage space for sets was found at various locations, including Brady Street Stadium. When all the wood that is used for productions disappeared during Central's construction, more was found to replace it, via the district's facilities director, Mike Maloney.
"Everything I thought might go wrong, went wrong," said IntVeld, who describes herself as normally calm and mellow.
She told the students to simply practice their lines and let her worry about the practice spaces and set construction.
Jeremy Weinstein, 17, starred in all three productions, and said he's been constantly adapting to the circumstances.
"We weren't sure where to go for each show, and we had to adapt for each structure," he said.
The changing performance venues, especially when the shows are at West, meant the students had to improve their messaging, or advertising, so their fans would know where to go.
On the bright side, Jeremy won't be likely to forget this challenging year. The junior was dentist Orin Scrivello in "Little Shop," Stanley Kowalski in "Streetcar," and he plays LeFou, the Josh Gad character in the current "Beauty" movie.
IntVeld is looking forward to using the new Central theater, and she stays philosophical, even as she waits to use the West facility because the floor recently was repainted and needs to "cure."
"We made the best of it," she said.