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“Little Shop of Horrors”: That Mean Green Mother from Outer Space Is Back, This Time at NRACT

Audrey II, that Mean Green Mother from Outer Space, is back! This time, the wonderfully wicked man-eating plant will thrive at the North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre, which is presenting a community-theater production of Little Shop of Horrors on Sept. 14-16, 21-23, and 28-30 in its theater in the Greystone Village Shopping Center in north Raleigh, NC. The 1982 Off-Broadway hit is based on director Roger Corman’s legendary low-budget 1960 horror film The Little Shop of Horrors, shot in only two days for just $30,000.

The 1982 science-fiction/horror musical features music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman, and a book Ashman based on the 1960 screenplay by Charles Griffith. (Impressed by the frisky melodies and biting lyrics of Little Shop of Horrors, Disney recruited Menken and Ashman to write songs for its animated motion-picture versions of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin.)

Little Shop of Horrors debuted Off Broadway, under the direction of lyricist and librettist Howard Ashman, with musical staging by Edie Cowan, on May 6, 1982 at the WPA Theatre, subsequently transferred to the Orpheum Theatre on July 27, 1982, and ran for 2,209 performances overall. The show won the 1983 Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Lyrics, and Outstanding Special Effects (Martin P. Robinson and Ron Taylor), the 1983 Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Off-Broadway Musical and Best Score, the 1983 Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical, and the 1982 Henry Hewes Design Award for Scenic Design (Edward T. Gianfrancesco).

The motion-picture version of Little Shop of Horrors was filmed in 1986, with Frank Oz directing and Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene starring as nerdy — and oh so needy — Skid-Row flower-shop clerk Seymour Krelborn and ditzy blonde bombshell Audrey Fulquard and Vincent Gardenia and Steve Martin co-starring as the cranky flower-shop proprietor Mr. Mushnik and Audrey’s handsome but violently abusive boyfriend Orin Scrivello, DDS. (Greene is the only performer from the cast of the Off-Broadway production to appear in the movie.)

“I remember watching a VHS of the 1986 movie on a fairly constant loop when I was little,” confesses NRACT guest director Jon Todd. “I grew up in a family of Muppet lovers, so we watched Little Shop, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth a lot.”

The Little Shop of Horrors movie musical received two 1987 Academy Award® nominations — for Best Effects, Visual Effects (Lyle Conway, Bran Ferren, and Martin Gutteridge) and for Best Music, Original Song (composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman for “Mean Green Mother from Outer Space,” a new song written expressly for the film and not part of the stage musical).

The Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors, directed by Jerry Zaks and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall, opened on Oct. 2, 2003 at the Virginia Theatre, and ran for 372 performances. That show received one 2004 Tony Award® nomination — for Best Actor in a Musical (Hunter Foster as Seymour).

NRACT director Jon Todd reports, “When I was a freshman in college, I had a chance to play Seymour in Livestock Players’ production of Little Shop in Greensboro, NC. We really had an amazing group of people involved in that production, and I have been in love with the show ever since.”

He adds, Alan Menken’s score for this show is definitely among the best scores ever written for musical theater. However, it’s the story that is so intriguing for me. I am a sci-fi and horror movie junkie, and Little Shop beautifully parodies the early Fright Night, Midnight Movie genre masterfully. It’s a great story, and it really does have something for everyone. Jazz, Blues, Do-Wop, Aliens, Puppets, Sadists, What’s not to love?”

Jon Todd, says, “Little Shop is about a nerdy, confidence-less flower shop clerk, Seymour played (Sam Hamashima), who adopts a unusual [Venus] flytrap, Audrey II (voiced by Ray Jaquez and puppeteered by Aaron Broadhurst). Pretty soon, the plant has transformed this failing shop into the most popular store in town.

“Everything seems to be going great for Seymour,” says Todd. “He even has a budding romance with the girl of his dreams Audrey (Dakota Hood). There is just one little problem. Audrey II feeds on human blood, and his appetite is growing as fast as he is. Throw Seymour’s greedy boss Mushnik (Jaraad Samad) and Audrey’s abusive sadistic boyfriend Orin Scrivello, DDS (T.J. Broadhurst), into the mix; and the odds against Seymour succeeding seem insurmountable.”

In addition to the performers named above, the cast also includes Sarah Zimmer as Chiffon, Brianna Gilmore as Crystal, and Hannah Woodcock as Ronnette. The ensemble includes Jane Simmons, Elena Mulligan, Gabby Hammond, Makeda Phoenix, Tatianna Shumaski, Ryan Rowe, Gabe Kennedy, Marshall Luther, and Raymond Jaquez.

In addition to director Jon Todd, the creative team for the North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre presentation of Little Shop of Horrors includes producer Jay Dolan, assistant director Jess Hill, choreographer Alison Doud LaRue, musical director Craig Johnson, technical director and set designer Todd Houseknecht, lighting designer Hayden Dean, costume designer Kelly Taylor, sound designer Becca Easley, and properties manager and stage manager Jennifer Elmo.

‘This show is a very tech heavy show,” claims director Jon Todd. “In the [1986] movie and in the 2003 Broadway cast, they had Jim Henson’s workshop to handle all the various versions of Audrey II. We obviously don’t have access to the resources that they did. Nevertheless, we have rented an amazing set of puppets from Carrboro High School, and have added some special elements to give the show the Midnight Movies look and feel, including a set that is designed to look like an abandoned Art-Deco movie theater, as well as a series of shorts which we project Rialto style on a movie screen that is central to the set.”

Todd says, “We also have the orchestra/band onstage as part of the action, disguised under the guise of being a jazz club right across the street from the Mushnik’s Flower Shop.”

He adds, “The lighting is dark and foreboding to give the show the horror feel. The costumes are 1960s appropriate, but with a few Forbidden Planet-like surprises.”

The North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre presents LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at 8 p.m. Sept. 14 and 15, 3 p.m. Sept. 16, 8 p.m. Sept. 21 and 22, and 3 p.m. Sept. 23, 8 p.m. Sept. 28 and 29, and 3 p.m. Sept. 30 at North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre, 7713-51 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27615, in the Greystone Village Shopping Center.

TICKETS: $15 ($12 students and seniors 62+), except $10 on Sundays and $5 Student Rush Tickets (available 5 minutes before curtain).

BOX OFFICE: 919-866-0228 or https://www.vendini.com/.

GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919-866-0228 or ops@nract.org.

SHOW: http://www.nract.org/2012/09/04/little-shop-of-horrors/.

SEASON: http://www.nract.org/shows/.

PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.nract.org/.

DIRECTIONS: http://www.bing.com/.

OTHER LINKS:

The 1960 Film: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Shop_of_Horrors (Wikipedia) and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054033/ (Internet Movie Database).

The Musical: http://www.mtishows.com/show_detail.asp?showid=000188 (Music Theatre International), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Shop_of_Horrors_(musical) (Wikipedia), http://www.lortel.org/ (Internet Off-Broadway Database), and http://www.ibdb.com/show.asp?ID=11223 (Internet Broadway Database).

Alan Menken: http://disney.go.com/disneyinsider/history/legends/alan-menken (Disney Legends) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Menken (Wikipedia).

Howard Ashman: http://www.howardashman.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Ashman (Wikipedia).

The 1986 Film: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Shop_of_Horrors_(film) (Wikipedia) and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091419/ (Internet Movie Database).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail RobertM748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TTR in the Subject: line.

To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail RobertM748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TTR in the Subject: line.

To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.

 

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