'Little Shop' Ready to Delight Audiences
A man-eating plant from outer space will bloom, grow and generally wreak havoc at Mt. Nittany Middle School.
State College Community Theatre, under the direction of Jason Poorman, will present the 1982 semi-classic science fiction horror musical comedy Little Shop of Horrors.
The highly successful film version from 1986 brought the show to a larger audience, ensuring its popularity.
“It’s an homage to B horror films from the sixties,” according to Poorman.
Musical comedy directors can approach their craft from a few different angles. They can get consumed with detail and micro-manage the cast members’ every move and syllable, or they can allow each performer to add his or her own style to the role. Poorman chooses the latter.
He allows each theatrical moment to happen, giving constructive advice where needed. The most recent show he directed, The Producers, succeeded because of his methods.
“It’s a quirky show with a quirky group of people,” he says.
The cast includes James McCready as menial laborer Seymour Krelborn. Shy, awkward and the ultimate nebbish, Seymour works in a flower shop on Skid Row, and secretly longs for romance with his co-worker Audrey, played by Katie Kensinger. They both work for the cantankerous Mr. Mushnik (Ken Wozetek).
One thing leads to another, and Seymour becomes the proud owner of a carnivorous, blood-thirsty plant which demands human blood, body parts and, eventually entire human beings as its food. It also becomes more vulgar and difficult to live with, belting out R&B tunes and bellowing insults. And Seymour ends up having to supply the plant with its nourishment.
McCready described Seymour’s resulting behavior as “murder by inaction.” In other words, Seymour doesn’t really murder anyone, but he doesn’t really stop anyone from dying if an accident happens.
Stephanie Whitesell more or less ‘plays’ the plant, which Seymour dubs ‘Audrey II.’ She sits inside a huge flower pot with the ghastly-looking pod covering her from the waist up. This allows her to manipulate bars in order to move the plant’s mouth. She called it a “challenge to give it character instead of just opening and closing its mouth.”
Kyler Sherman-Wilkins gives the plant its voice. He first tackled this role as a high school student in Illinois.
“It’s a different kind of energy and skill to convey all the plant’s evilness through voice,” he says.
He added that he needs to synchronize his vocals with Whitesell’s movements.
“I stay backstage in full view of the plant,” he explains, “because my voice is not the only thing representing Audrey II.”
The plant seems like some sort of gangster with leaves. Sherman-Wilkins and Whitesell have one of the biggest challenges in theatre by making it nasty, crude and rude — from two different points on stage. They manage to handle the vile character and make it look easy.
The memorable line ‘FEED ME’ and Seymour’s horrified reaction make up one small moment in this play. That scene speaks volumes, though and makes for a truly fun show.
Audrey II might intimidate the luckless Seymour. But she won’t fail to entertain.
IF YOU GO
What: “Little Shop of Horrors”
Where: Mount Nittany Middle School
When: June 7, 12, 13 and 14
For more information or to buy tickets visit the State College Community Theatre website.