State Street Theater Presents: Little Shop of Horrors
Performances are 7 p.m. Friday, July 23 and Saturday, July 24 with a 2 p.m. performance Sunday, July 25.
“Little Shop of Horrors” is a horror comedy rock musical about a floral shop worker Seymour Krelbourn (played by Brady Waibel) who finds a mysterious plant that thrives on human blood. He names the plant Audrey II after his crush Audrey (Annaliese Emmons).
As the plant grows in size, Seymour and the little shop grow in popularity. Unfortunately, the plant’s appetite also grows and the plant begins making verbal demands for blood. Seymour is conflicted as to whether to feed the plant or risk losing his newfound fame and a chance at the heart of his dream girl Audrey.
“Little Shop of Horror” is loosely based on a low-budget film from the 1960s. The musical is a send-off of old science-fiction B-movies. It is a unique production for SST.
Producer Christina Koester said this production was planned before the COVID pandemic. The idea was to appeal to a different audience.
Koester said typically the cast of SSTC has a mixture of young and veteran performers, but Little Shop of Horrors’s cast is mostly college students and older.
“This is a very mature cast,” she said. “There is a lot of experience here.”
The production has attracted several actors who have not previously performed at SST.
Annaliese Emmons, who plays Audrey, said she was a big fan of the musical and had been waiting for a chance to audition for production near her.
Over a year ago she did a Google search of “Little Shop of Horror” productions and found the SSTC production, but it was postponed a year because of COVID. Emmons waited a year for auditions to start and was able to secure the female lead.
Director Lolly Foy is also new to SSTC, but she has previous experience directing “Little Shop of Horrors.” She previously directed the musical for Mankato’s Merely Players. Foy jumped at the chance to direct the musical again.
“I love the play,” Foy said. “It was easy to get me to do it again, which is surprising because it is a busy summer.”
Foy lives in the Twin Cities but has been housed at The Grand Center For Arts and Culture as the guest artist. Despite her busy schedule, Foy said she had no regrets about taking on the task of directing.
“This is an amazing cast,” she said.
Asked about her favorite part of the musica, Foy said she is delighted by the show’s camp sensibilities and lampooning the mid-20th-century horror stories that took themselves so seriously.
“We can’t help but love them now,” she said.
As a parody of older B-movies, the play features a throwback aesthetic. The entire cast will be dressed in costumes out of the early 1960s. Costume designer Molly Smith has pulled together a lot of 60s looks. This includes a lot of stylish shoes and bow-ties. Smith said even with the ’60s setting, she tried to throw in a few styles from the ’40s.
“If it is a classic style, it will work,” Smith said. The idea is to make the production larger than life and colorful.”
Despite some of the horror elements of the musical, the show is still upbeat and fun.
The upbeat and fun attitude is especially true of the music.
Foy described the music of Little Shop of Horrors as infectious. Nearly every member of the cast and crew has a different song they cite as their favorite. Foy said “Little Shop” is probably the biggest earworm, but “Suddenly Seymour” is a close second.
Several other cast and crew members said “Skid Row” was their favorite. Brady Waibel liked the last song “Finale Ultimo (Don’t Feed the Plants).”
Michael Bovée who serves as one of the puppeteers of Audrey II, likes the song “Suppertime” even though it is relatively short.
Christian Hanel, who voices the man-eating Audrey II couldn’t decide which song was the best.
“All the songs in this are the bop,” Hanel said.
The Audrey II character is the most unique character in “Little Shop of Horrors”. Koester said the Audrey II puppet comes in three stages.
The first stage is a hand puppet. Then it is placed on a table. The last is a massive human-sized puppet. Koester explained that since the puppet needs to eat people, it has to be large enough for a person to fit inside. The puppet is being rented out from a company that loans out their Audrey II to other productions.
Since the character is a giant man-eating plant, no single actor can play the character. The last phase of Audrey II is a large puppet that is operated by Bovée and Elissa Ries and voiced by Hanel.
Bovée and Hanel will be working together to make sure the puppet’s mouth movements match his voice. It requires plenty of rehearsal to sync the performance with the vocals.
The Audrey II plant does require some logistical planning, but director Foy said the greatest challenge with this production was finding the balance between intimacy and distance in staging it.
The COVID pandemic raised lots of questions about live theater. They want to make sure actors and audience remain healthy, but remain honest. COVID restrictions have been lifted in Minnesota, but after a year away it takes time to relearn how to stand together again. This is a challenge facing all musical theater.
Foy said the cast has stepped up to the plate and is giving it their absolute all.
“There is a real talent in this cast. It is a joy to listen to them sing,” she said. “I wanted to them all on stage and we found a way. If nothing else, this will be a treat for the ears.”
Audiences will be able to see and hear for themselves, next week. Performances are 7 p.m. Friday, July 23 and Saturday, July 24 with a 2 p.m. performance Sunday, July 25.
Tickets are available at the Chamber of Commerce, Hy-Vee and online. Tickets will also be sold at the door. Advanced tickets are $8 for students and $12.50 for adults. At the door, tickets are $10 for students and $15 for adults.