Little Shop of Horrors opens in Visalia July 20
Theatre Company prepares quirky musical about man-eating plant from outer space
This month, the Theatre Company has prepared a full-scale production of Little Shop of Horrors with a twist. The popular rock musical about Seymour, a hapless florist shop worker who raises a man-eating plant from outer space, is being staged in the 1980s, rather than the 1960s when it was originally set. Seymour, his man-eating plant, Audrey, Mr. Mushnik, the crazed dentist, and all the supporting characters from their Skid Row neighborhood will be transported to the era of Madonna and Members Only jackets. “Taking this cult classic and putting it onstage with a twist has been more fun and challenging than any of us originally imagined,” said Theatre Company director Bethany Rader. “While the show is designed to take place in the ‘60s, as we listened to the new cast recording, we envisioned Skid Row as an ‘80s punk scene with the character of Audrey heavily influenced by singer, Madonna."
Little Shop of Horrors is a high-energy production from the moment the curtain opens. One musical number leads right into the next – songs written in early rock and roll and Motown styles. Little Shop of Horrors premiered Off-Off-Broadway in 1982. The production was critically acclaimed and won several awards including the 1982–1983 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical, and the Outer Critics Circle Award. In 1986, the musical was made into a movie of the same name.
Redwood High School senior Parker Chalabian stars in the role of Seymour, who pines for his coworker Audrey. “Seymour is often portrayed as anxious and awkward,” he said. “But he's more than that; he's a nice guy and Audrey sees that. Yes, he's shy and a little awkward, but deep down, he's a nice guy. It has been fun to bring those qualities to this character.”
Chloe Hunt, a junior at Golden West High School, plays the part of Audrey. “She is a completely different character than I've ever played,” she said. “The characters of Mary Lennox (from The Secret Garden) and Ariel (from Little Mermaid) were very strong-willed. Audrey is vulnerable, has low self-esteem, and worries about what others think about her. In this production, it has been rewarding to build her character's strength and confidence.”
Ms. Rader reports that another challenge with this production of Little Shop of Horrors was expanding the show’s original cast size from eight to over 40. “Our vocal coach Charlotte Garcia, choreographer Jennifer McGill, costume designer Nicole Zweifel, and I have worked tirelessly to fit and build an ensemble, and to create roles wherever possible. Needless to say, we’ve had a lot of fun with this show!”
For information on the upcoming production of Little Shop of Horrors, call the Theatre Company at (559) 651-1482.
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Tim A. Hire, County Superintendent of Schools
Tulare County Office of Education
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