UEA DramaSoc will be putting on the musical The Little Shop of Horrors early next month, so Venue headed down to the rehearsals to catch up with the cast and crew, and to see what makes man-eating plants tick.
The Little Shop of Horrors isn’t your typical musical: The plot follows “Seymour Krelborn who is an orphan, a florist, a simpleton and a doting secret admirer, all in equal measure. Sandwiched between his grouchy boss Mr Mushnik and the unknowing love of his life Audrey, his chances of ever escaping Skid Row are falling apart faster than the flower shop he works in. Until the day he stumbles upon a bizarre and peculiar plant, the like of which he’s never known. In appearance not unlike a Venus flytrap, ‘Audrey II’ seems as sweet-natured, timid, and hopelessly lovable as his human namesake. As Audrey II’s fame begins to skyrocket, so do Seymour and Audrey’s prospects.”
Oh, and did we mention that Audrey II survives on a diet of human blood? It was partly this dark heart at the centre of the production that attracted Director Rob Ellis to bring it to DramaSoc: “Without any spoilers, it’s all about how really wanting something can completely force the chances of ruining your life, and we get to witness this great downwards spiral as Seymour gets in too deep.”
Although a musical, there is equal focus and attention given to the spoken dialogue of the show, and it’s this balance that Ellis really wants to highlight: “It’s my favourite show, I think for me doing musical theatre for a company such as DramaSoc, what’s important for me is that the quality of the acting and the quality of the dialogue is always equal to, if not stronger than the wonderful singing we also have.”
“For me, Seymour and Audrey are the two protagonists in musical theatre who are allowed the most development, they suffer from really human problems as opposed to classic musical theatre over-the-top kind of things.”
As assistant Director Siobhan James-Elliot adds, “It’s very real elements placed in bizarre situations, it borders on the fantastic.”
So how exactly are DramaSoc planning on bringing the giant talking plant to life? “We’ve got three stages of its growth; first there’s a very small hand puppet, and then it becomes an arm puppet with someone actually physicalizing the body of the plant themselves, and then the third one is a giant jaw contraption that is on stage and it is big! It’s very big! Very kindly ArtSociety are making it for us, and I’ve seen it and it’s very impressive.”
Although both have been involved with other productions, this is the Directorial debut for Ellis and James-Elliot with DramaSoc. They began the auditioning process way back in week eleven of last semester and have been hard at work ever since, adding unique elements such as a chorus and increasing the number of actors in the overall production. The Little Shop of Horrors will be running in the UEA Drama Studios March 6th-8th so be sure to get yourself a ticket!
Or as Siobhan James-Elliot warns, “Be there or risk getting eaten by a giant man-eating plant.”