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Clayton Youth Theater Reprises Little Shop of Horrors with Gusto at The Clayton Center

The Clayton Youth Theater celebrated its 10-year anniversary by going back to its roots. The Saturday, Aug. 5th, closing performance of the musical Little Shop of Horrors was sold out.

Director and founder Nikki Dyke created the Clayton Youth Theater in 2007 as a way to provide a positive mentoring environment for the youth of Clayton. Her mission is to cultivate their talents and bring further appreciation to performance art.

Since its first show of Little Shop of Horrors in 2007, the Clayton Youth Theater has performed 17 productions and 58 performances. This was my first time attending a Clayton Youth Theater production; however, I know after Saturday night’s performance that I will be seeing some of these actors on Broadway!

I’m a little surprised that a youth theater would choose to do Little Shop of Horrors. The subject matter would appear to be a little daunting for a youth production, yet CYT was up for the challenge.

Little Shop of Horrors was written by Howard Ashman, with music by Alan Menken. The musical is based on the 1960 film by Roger Corman and screenplay by Charles B. Griffith. You may have seen the popular 1986 film adaptation of the musical, produced by David Geffen and starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, and Steve Martin. The movie has a “happier” alternate ending than the musical.

Little Shop of Horrors takes the audience on a satirical 1960’s journey down Skid Row. Seymour Krelborn is a down-on-his-luck orphaned florist’s assistant. He is desperately in love with co-worker Audrey, who due to self-esteem issues is dating Orin, a no-goodnick dentist who takes pleasure in other people’s pain.

Seymour finds a strange and unusual plant that he names Audrey II. All seems to be going well until he discovers the plant’s unusual eating habits.

<em>Little Shop of Horrors</em> starred Lexi Yauch, Nicholas Kraft, and Tyler Ellis as Audrey, Seymour, and Mushnik

Little Shop of Horrors starred Lexi Yauch, Nicholas Kraft, and Tyler Ellis as Audrey, Seymour, and Mushnik

Throw in a trio of do-op hood rats who form a 1960’s girl group, a Jewish flower-shop owner-turned-surrogate father to Seymour, and soulful R&B singing plant; and Seymour is faced with the ultimate decision. Does he choose the woman he loves or the plant that brought them together?

Although all of the actors did a wonderful job, there were a few stand out performances. Jesse Farmer nailed Orin, the sadistic dentist. Farmer was delightfully funny, quirky, and was the man you loved to hate. Casey Wortham was a sassy delightful Crystal, and Nicholas Kraft played the awkwardness of Seymour well.

For me personally, one of the stars of the show was Markeese King, who was the voice of Audrey II. His voice was deep and soulful beyond his years. And the magic manipulator of the puppet of Audrey II was Zoey Sinton-Covens.

Rounding out the talented teen cast are: Lexi Yauch as Audrey, Tyler Ellis as Mushnik, Juliana Gorena as Chiffon, Ragan Keefer as Ronnette, Emma Alfred, Ruffin Atchison, Austin Bassett, Weston Butcher, Rebecca Douthart, Lucas Guin, Emily Hartsoe, Seven Imhotep, Elom Lewis, Jacob McCain, Mary Obiol, Emily Spain, and Pepin Tamondong.

There were multiple versions of the puppets for Audrey II, ranging from baby to larger-than-life man-eater. Each one is skillfully designed by Martin P Robinson and constructed by character translations for Music Theater International, Inc. The set designed by Julia Kapke transitioned fairly nicely from florist, to dental shop, to downtown Skid Row.

There were a few unfortunate microphone issues that left the tight girl group’s harmonies unbalanced and awkward. Also, another unfortunate sound choice was giving Orrin a full gas mask to cover his face during one of his songs. Although this is a critical part of the script, it was unfortunate that not only was his microphone not working, but we could not hear Jesse Farmer’s beautiful voice or words.

I think Clayton Youth Theater has a good thing going. I hope that it continues to be supported and allows our talented youth to grow.

The cast and crew of the Clayton Youth Theater's production of <em>Little Shop of Horrors</em> is shown here

The cast and crew of the Clayton Youth Theater’s production of Little Shop of Horrors is shown here

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (Clayton Youth Theater, July 28 and 29 and Aug. 3-5 at the The Clayton Center in Clayton, NC.)

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Little Shop of Horrors (1960 film): (Turner Classic Movies), (Internet Movie Database), and (Wikipedia).

Little Shop of Horrors (1982 Off-Broadway, 1983 West End, and 2003 Broadway musical): (Music Theatre International), (Internet Off-Broadway Database), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

Alan Menken (music): (official website), (Internet Off-Broadway Database), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

Howard Ashman (lyrics/book): (official website), (Internet Off-Broadway Database), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

Little Shop of Horrors (1986 film): (Turner Classic Movies), (Internet Movie Database), and (Wikipedia).

Nikki Colvin Dyke (director and founder and director of the Clayton Youth Theater): (CYT bio) and (Facebook page).



Shannon Plummer-White is no stranger to the stage! She studied Musical Theater & Opera at the American Musical Dramatic Academy in New York City, and has appeared in films such as Iron Man 3 and Safe Haven. She has also performed with the North Carolina Master Chorale and the North Carolina Symphony. When she isn’t on stage or making magic behind the scenes, she can be found in the art studio playing with fire and molten glass. She is an animal advocate with a special love of cats. She has four rescued fur children and a very supportive husband. Click here to read her reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.

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