Combine an alien plant's rapacious appetite for human blood and a troublesome stew of human weaknesses, such as greed, self-immolation, doubt and power-hunger, and you get "Little Shop of Horrors," a campy dark comedy that turns a flower shop into a lugubrious slaughterhouse with disco lights, plush props and horticultural backtalk.
When Seymour Krelborn, an assistant in Mr. Mushnik's flower shop in an impoverished downtown dubbed skid row, discovers that the malnourished plant he has been nursing with optimal care flourishes only when it swallows drops of human blood, he is surprised but elated. When the mysterious plant begins attracting more visitors to the shop and business starts blooming, he is caught between a venus fly trap and an avocado. He must ask himself whether to continue feeding the vegetable its weekly rations of a particularly hard-to-come-by, downright criminal delicacy or risk losing his claim to fame, a newly-won love, father and cash stream. Much more than a Faustian bargain ensues when the insatiable Audrey II starts calling the shots and wielding its captivating will on its master.
With music by Alan Menken and book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, this Damascus Theatre Company rendition of "Little Shop of Horrors" is playing at the Arts Barn through June 26, 2011. Showtimes are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m.
With a small cast of characters, this musical is ideal for community theater productions. Gabriel Potter's Seymour conveys all the anxiety and fervor of a madman in love. Chrissy Barnett Miller's Audrey dreams of an idyllic suburban life alongside Seymour when she escapes the sadomasochistic clutches of a dentist - Orin - portrayed by Bob Schwartz. Schwartz is cast as several characters in the play, one more hilarious than the next. Carl Williams, the voice of the carnivorous plant, delivers diabolical laughter, coaxing rhetoric and victorious tunes, such as "Suppertime." A chorus made up of three streetwise gals, played by Carrie McCabe, Charlotte Hendrix and Kylie Smith, chimes in to narrate and provide background commentary on fantastical havoc that this alien species wreaks on the already rough-and-tumble world of homo sapiens.
"The cast was amazing, and the production came together very easily," said Director Shelly Horn. "I am proud of the whole thing. We have top-level actors in all parts because they all wanted to be in this play. The sets, props and orchestra all fell into the original vision for the production, and everyone on board was on the same page."
With the intimate stage and limited storage space that the Arts Barn provides, the production crew faced a challenge. Hidden from the audience but perfectly in tune with crystal clear sound quality, a backstage orchestra, including two keyboards, a flute, guitar, bass, percussion set and reeds accompanies all music numbers. Rotating sets and a colorful, gargantuan on-stage plant puppet enliven the scene.
The production crew includes: Shelly Horn, Director; Elli Swink and Keith Tittermary, Producers; Marci Shegogue, Musical Director; Megan May, Choreographer; Rick Swink, Technical Director/Lighting Design; Vitol Wiacek, Sound Designer; Rachel Styles, Stage Manager; Bill Brown and Shelly Horn, Set Design; Jim Korte and Bill Lebair, Master Carpenters; Maria Littlefield, Scenery Artist/Set Dressing/Props Mistress; Fio Arnold, Susie Graham, Lee Michelle Rosenthal, Costumes.
Additional cast members include: David Fialkoff as Mr. Mushnik; Bill Brown as The Plant; Lee Michelle Rosenthal as Customer; Megan May as Wino; and Keith Tittermary as Policeman.
The orchestra features: Marci Shegogue and Keith Tittermary on keyboard; Lesley Cooper on flute; Charlie Condon and Chris Condon on reeds; Claudio Ferreira on guitar; Tom Lipe on bass; and Ric Okin on percussion.
To find out more about the Damascus Theatre Company, click here.
To find out more about the Arts Barn, click here.