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Plenty of laughs to go with the horrors

Little Shop of Horrors

Drayton Entertainment’s production of Little Shop of Horrors opens Mar. 8 at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse.

The story of sad Seymour, vacant Audrey and a man-eating plant will be hitting the stage next month at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse.

The show is the cult classic Little Shop of Horrors, and choreographer and director Mike Jackson, a big fan of the original movie and off-Broadway production, can’t wait to bring the story to Drayton Theatre audiences.

“It is such a fun musical and it doesn’t get done very often,” he said of the show, peppered with jokes and R&B music. “Anyone who has done the show, or even seen it, has a real soft spot and a love for it. Every time somebody finds out I am doing Little Shop of Horrors, they tell me how much they love that production and that they can’t wait to see it. Everybody in the building is excited about the show too. It is such a fantastic musical.”

The story surrounds Seymour, played by Drayton Theatre veteran Ken James Stewart, a sad and nerdy florist with an unrequited crush on his coworker, the vapid and simple Audrey, played by familiar face Jayme Armstrong. He enters into an agreement with an alien in the form of a forceful and mean plant, voiced by tenor and actor Lee Siegel, at the flower shop, which he names Audrey II. The catch? The plant feeds on human blood, and Seymour has to find ways to keep satisfying its hunger.

“They all want a better life. They are really sincere and intensely honest characters. They are funny, but their humour comes out as honesty,” he said. “Audrey has watched movies her whole life and she believes that what she sees in the movies are something she wants to emulate in her life. Seymour is this orphan and he works so hard, and they come across this plant and he goes on this journey of feeling like his life could really change.”

The ending of the 1986 movie showed Seymour, played by Rick Moranis, and Audrey, played by Ellen Greene, riding off into the proverbial sunset together, but Jackson says this production stays true to the original ending, and audiences could be in for a surprise.

“If you haven’t seen it on stage, you’ll have a blast,” he said. “The original ending didn’t test well with audiences, so for the movie they did the Disney ending. That is not the actual ending.”

Jackson says the show has a universal quality to it, with relatable characters, catchy tunes and a far-out plot – something Drayton Theatre audiences will love.

“There is huge diversity in musicals. Some people love their Rogers and Hammerstein, and some people love their Lerner and Loewe. I love this kind of stuff because it is accessible and fun,” he said. “Well, I would have to say that the music got under my skin when I first heard it. The music, I found so fun, it is R&B music and an exciting score. The show is so ridiculous that you can’t help but laugh at it. I think when people really get into the spirit of the show, they have a really fun time. It is a strange, strange little show. It has got a weird ending, and it is really fun.”

Jayme Armstrong plays Audrey in Drayton Theatre’s upcoming production of Little Shop of Horrors. The show starts on Mar. 8 and tells the story of a man-eating plant making promises to a meek florist trying to win the girl.[Submitted]
Jayme Armstrong plays Audrey in Drayton Theatre’s upcoming production of Little Shop of Horrors. The show starts on Mar. 8 and tells the story of a man-eating plant making promises to a meek florist trying to win the girl. [Submitted]
Canadian R&B singer and Juno-award winner Divine Brown has joined the cast as part of the trio of doo-wop back-up singers narrating the story as it goes along, and Jackson is absolutely thrilled to have such huge talent on the Country Playhouse stage.

“I still won’t believe it until I see her at rehearsal. Someone suggested her and we got in touch with her and she happened to be free. It is quite a short run, just from Mar. 8-26. We have a couple of musical artists, they have outside bands, but this happened to fit into her schedule. She has done lots of theatre and she loves doing it. She has done Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Rent. We are thrilled to have her. She is very talented.”

She will be joined by soul singers Vanessa Cobham and Shahi Teruko, telling the story of Audrey II and the growing problem the alien plant creates for Seymour and his lady-love.

Jackson says that even though there is only a cast of nine in the production, the show is deceptively complicated to put together, with a special set design put together by designer Sam Burson, someone Jackson has worked with before on this very show.

“It is really huge and complicated. I had done this show once before many years ago with set designer Sam Burson and she is doing this show as well, so I have had that luck,” he said. “It is really incredible. It all happens on a revolving stage, so we are able to transition from inside the shop and back onto the street, and it is a giant set. It is going to be great.”

Tickets are already on sale for Little Shop of Horrors for $44 per person, or $26 for students under 20 at www.draytonentertainment.com. The show will be running from Mar. 8 to 26 with opening night starting at 7:30 p.m.

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