WHETHER you're a theatre buff, a movie buff, or a pop culture nerd, chances are you love Little Shop of Horrors.
If you crave a tale with an underdog, plenty of slapstick, a catchy Motown soundtrack, a little terror, some B-movie inspired cheese, a trash-talking plant with fangs, and thrilling romance, this cult classic’s got it all. What’s not to love?
The Savannah Children’s Theatre (SCT) will salute the timeless tale in a production put on by their Junior Company.
“It’s our high school kids that are very committed...it’s a deeper experience,” explains director Kelie Miley of the program.
The talented teens come from an array of high schools. Andy Paul, a junior at Savannah Country Day School, takes on the role of Seymour, the loveable dweeb trying to scrape by while working at a poorly-faring flower shop owned by cranky old Mr. Mushnik (played by homeschooler Noah Edwards).
It seems the only ray of sunshine in Seymour’s life is his co-worker, the sweet-natured, flashy-styled Audrey, portrayed by Savannah Arts Academy student Anna Schneider. Unfortunately for Seymour, Audrey’s stuck with Orin, her evil, abusive dentist boyfriend (if you’ve seen the 1980 film, you’ll remember Steve Martin’s brilliant moment as the character; Matt White takes on the role for SCT).
Everything changes when Seymour scores an odd, Venus flytrap-like plant during a solar eclipse. He dubs it Audrey II in honor of his secret love.
With an unquenchable thirst for blood and demand to be fed, Audrey II (voiced by SCAD graduate student Tony Davidson, who played the lead in SCT’s Shrek)—and Seymour—quickly rise to stardom and infamy.
The quoteable play has long been a favorite of the Junior Company.
“They’ve been asking me [to put on Little Shop of Horrors] for years,” laughs Miley.
With many Junior Company members about to graduate, Miley decided it was finally time.
“Normally, we concentrate on child audiences,” she explains. “This is for the teenagers. Twice a year, they want to do a little something more...we go into a PG-13 area, where it’s not necessarily right for young children.”
Primarily, Miley was concerned about finding the right Audrey II.
“I was worried about the plant—that’s the big commitment!” she says.
Luckily, Savannah is home to the innovative David I.L. Poole, known throughout town for his creative and magical puppet artistry. He took charge and created a delightful and frightful Audrey II.
“We’re highly, highly happy he’s building the plant,” beams Miley. “Without the plant, you don’t have Little Shop of Horrors!”
Poole has built several Audrey IIs, as the plant grows (and grows and grows) over the course of the play, evolving from cute little seedling to towering menace.
“It starts off small and not very menacing, then grows into the plant that ate the world!” Miley describes.
It will be a treat to see a new generation taking on a hit favorite. What is it about Little Shop that gives it that lasting power?
“The music is fun!” answers Miley. “It appeals to a lot of people: sweet ballads, silly Motown, a lot of tongue-in-cheek stuff, the crazy dentist number.”
Miley’s excited to debut the Motown trio that acts as a kind of Greek chorus throughout the play (if you didn’t get the ‘60s reference from the tunes, you surely get ‘em in the character names: Crystal (Maddy Roberts), Ronette (Brooks Triplett), and Chiffon (Deandra Bernardo) are all derived from actual girl groups).
Brandon Kaufman is in charge of musical direction; there will be a live orchestra playing, complete with drums, bass, guitar, French horn, and more.
“Jenn Doubleday is the choreographer, and she’s the reason the show looks the way it does,” explains Miley. “She’s done a great job.”
While it may not be appropriate for young children, teenagers and grownups alike are certain to enjoy a taste of Seymour and Audrey’s grand adventure.
“It’s got a lot of heart, because you really feel for the nerdy, sweet Seymour and the street girl with a heart of gold, Audrey, who’s trying to find a better life for herself but lives on Skid Row,” muses Miley.
“For all its silliness and campiness, it’s got a lot of heart. I think there’s great appeal.”