When Jeremy Showgren learned that SCERA was planning a production of "Little Shop of Horrors," he was first in line to ask if he could direct the show.
"I find it so appealing because it is very fun and highly musical," he says. "Most people at least know the title song, and it is memorable enough to get stuck in their heads. I saw the movie as a kid and loved it." Some of those memorable songs include "Somewhere That's Green," "Suddenly Seymour" and "Skid Row" (Downtown).
SCERA will launch its indoor season with "Little Shop of Horrors" playing Sept. 14 through October 6 on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays @ 7:30pm. All seats are reserved, and tickets are $12 for adults, and $10 for children (age 3-11), seniors (age 65+) and students (w/ID). They are available in advance from 10am-6pm weekdays and Saturdays from 12Noon-6pm at the main office at SCERA Center, 745 South State, Orem, by calling (801) 225-ARTS, online at www.scera.org or at the door 30 minutes prior to the show.
The story is of a hapless Skid Row florist named Seymour who becomes an overnight sensation when he discovers a bossy exotic plant with a mysterious craving for human blood. Although it does not pop out immediately as family fare, Showgren is directing "Little Shop of Horrors" like a DC comic from the 1950s where it is colorful, stylized and just grounded in enough reality to make it appealing.
"The stage show and the movie can tend to be a little dark, but our production is not. I want it to be a musical that even my five-year-old nephew can enjoy," Showgren explains. "So I've made it like watching a cartoon, and I focused more on the style than the horror of a man-eating plant."
Showgren says the set, designed by Daniel Whiting, reflects his desire to have it look as if it's pulled from the pages of an old comic book.
As he looked at casting the show, Showgren opted to make his female lead, Audrey, grounded and down-to-earth, and his male lead, Seymour, also fairly grounded so the audience can identify more with them. He depicts Seymour as a man who does terrible things to try and find happiness, and Audrey as a woman who is trying to transcend her troubled past by making things right.
The roles will be played by two SCERA veterans, Emily Maria (Smith) Bennett as Audrey and A. J. Nielsen as Seymour. Another SCERA regular, Michael Shepherd, plays the masochistic dentist and Audrey's evil boyfriend. The trio - who played the three leads in SCERA's "Singin' in the Rain" two summers ago - are all back, but this time as completely different characters with a different dynamic.
"The audience is used to seeing Bennett and Shepherd as romantic leads for each other (they played Kathy Selden and Don Lockwood, with Nielsen as Cosmo, in SCERA's 'Singin' in the Rain'), but they are really having a blast this time around," Showgren says. "It's a fun departure to play such flawed and interesting characters."
Also playing a major role is Justin Stockett as the shop owner, Mushnik. A trio of talented narrators keep the story moving along in doo-wop musical style – Mollie Burdett as Crystal, Shani Harper as Chiffon and Lauren Anderson as Ronnette.
In addition to Whiting, Showgren, who is both artistic and musical director, is getting assistance from Shawn Mortensen as choreographer and Debbie Bowman and Kelsey Seaver as costume designers. Bowman and Seaver are using the TV show "Mad Men" as inspiration for some of the period costuming.
"While the premise might sound a little crazy, 'Little Shop' is full of fantastic music and a story that'll keep you entertained from beginning to end, says Adam J. Robertson, SCERA President & CEO. "And really, how can you go wrong with a giant alien plant at the center of it all."
To sum it up, perhaps one can say it's a cautionary tale of what happens when botany goes horribly wrong – with tongue "planted" firmly in cheek!
Photo Credit: Mark A. Philbric