Homer Alaska - Arts

Story last updated at 3:49 PM on Wednesday, June 29, 2011

'Little Shop of Horrors' opens at Pier One Theatre on Friday

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer

There will be blood.

When "Little Shop of Horrors" opens Friday at Pier One Theatre on the Homer Spit, much blood will be spilled as Audrey II, the carnivorous, alien flesh-eating plant, devours characters toe by toe, arm by arm and bit by bit. Fortunately, this is the blood of 1960s sci-fi thrillers and not the gore of modern splatter fests. Discrete blood. Tasteful blood. Umm, tasty blood, all licked and chomped in the maw of the 8-foot puppet beast played by dancer Rachel Lindamood.

Audrey II isn't any old prop, but a Venus fly-trap on steroids that wiggles, squirms, talks and sings — OK, lip-syncs.

"It requires a great deal of strength and dexterity to be a plant," said stage director Lance Petersen of Lindamood's role.

With music by Alan Menken and lyrics and book by Howard Ashman, "Little Shop of Horrors," the 1982 musical, has its origin in "The Little Shop of Horrors," the 1960 Roger Corman B-movie that featured actor Jack Nicholson in one of his first film roles. Ashman kept the basic plot of a nerdy florist worker, Seymour, smitten by the lovely Audrey and harassed by the mean shop owner, Mr. Mushnik. Into the florist shop comes a seemingly benign exotic plant. Named Audrey II by Seymour after his unrequited love, the plant grows — and grows — after it gets a taste of blood. Pretty soon it starts talking, too, and just like a baby, Audrey II has a common demand: "Feed me."

Menken and Ashman adapted the movie into the hit Broadway musical after seeing Corman's film.

"A carnivorous plant based on world domination was hardly the stuff to make a musical, but they did it by just going over the top," Petersen said.

Keeping its original 1960s setting, Menken's music blends the music of the time: rock 'n' roll, doo-wop and Motown. There's even a Doo-wop Greek Chorus with names like Ronnette, Crystal and Chiffon. The musical also keeps 1960s attitudes. Audrey dreams of getting married and living in the suburbs to be a wife who "cooks like Betty Crocker and looks like Donna Reed" — you know, housedress, apron, pearls, bouffant hair and heels.

Petersen got the idea for a Pier One production of "Little Shop of Horrors" from choreographer Breezy Berryman, who worked with Petersen on the Homer High School musical, "Rent."

"I'd really like to do 'Little Shop of Horrors' sometime," Berryman told him.

With its cast of about a dozen, though, that wouldn't work for a high school version, which requires roles for 100.

"I said, 'Wait — it doesn't have to be a high school show,'" Petersen said. "JulieAnn (Smith), Breezy and I put our heads together and decided to do it this summer."

Smith, the music director, plays in the band backing the musical. Boogie-woogie piano sensation Johnny B, also known as John Bushell, also plays in the stage band. The role of Audrey II is so big that Bushell also is its voice.

This production features veteran Pier One actors such as Peter Norton, Carolyn Norton, Craig Phillips, Maura Gibson, Christa Collier and — not that he's typecast or anything — Judge emeritus and Homer Mayor James Hornaday as "A Voice Not Unlike God."

"Oh yeah," Petersen said of the tone the cast takes. "We're of course taking it seriously in order to make it as funny as it can possibly be."

"Little Shop of Horrors" also plays Saturday and Sunday and continues for the next two weekends. A movie version of the musical also came out in 1986 and starred Rich Moranis as Seymour and Steve Martin as the dentist.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

Book by Howard Ashman</p>

Music by Alan Menken

Lyrics by Howard Ashman

JulieAnn Smith, Music Director

Breezy Berryman, Choreographer

Lance Petersen, Stage Director

Times, Dates:

8:15 p.m. Friday, Saturday

7:30 pm. Sunday

7:30 p.m. July 7

8:15 p.m. July 8, July 9

7:30 p.m. July 10

7:30 p.m. July 14

8:15 p.m. July 15, July 16

$15 general admission, $10 for Raven's Club and $5 for youth under age 21. Call 235-7333 for reservations


Mr. Mushnik: Peter Norton

Seymour: Jody Gaines

Audrey: Maura Gibson

Doo-wop Greek Chorus:

Ronnette: Maria Fourier

Crystal: Carolyn Norton

Chiffon: Mindy Parks

Orin (the dentist) : Craig Phillips

Audrey 2 (puppeteer): Rachel Lindamood

Audrey 2 (voice): John Bushell

Bernstein: Owen Duffy

Mrs. Luce: Christa Collier

Skip Snip: Margaret Quarton

A Voice Not Unlike God: James Hornaday