Lots of laughs in 'Little Shop of Horrors' show at Little Theatre on Broad Street

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Mon., Aug. 5, 2013
Contributed
Paul Lucenti as Seymour, Jessica van der Swaagh as Audrey and Dan Cote, disguised as Audrey 2, entertain the audience at The Little Theatre on Broad Street. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

You can tell “The Little Shop of Horrors” is going to be a different kind of horror story from the very beginning of the show. After the deep voice of a narrator warns about a terrible threat to human existence, three dancing characters come on stage singing an upbeat tune. That's how the Little Theatre on Broad Street's production of the comedy-horror-rock musical begins. Based on Roger Corman's 1960 low-budget black comedy, “Horrors” includes a cast of seasoned veterans, as well as some new to the stage.

According to producer Rebecca Theriaque, the cast was pulled from all over northeastern Connecticut. “We have people who've performed at the Bradley for 20 years,” she said. “We have a lead character fresh from a show at the Complex Performing Arts Center. We've put in people who have never sung and danced before with people who can do it in their sleep.”

Director Nicholas Magrey said, “Everyone in this show has brought a level of excitement and determination to see it through and make it wonderful. There are veterans who knew what they were getting into, and some ‘green’ in the way of theater who didn't know what they were getting into, but who've stepped up to plate and taken everything we've thrown at them with poise and grace.”

It helps that the show has a fun and crazy story line. A man-eating plant threatens to take over the world. “It's as true to life as a man-eating plant story can be,” Magrey added.

Carl Mercier, who plays crabby floral shop owner Mr. Mushnik, said Corman was a weird guy who wrote tons of horror flicks in the ’50s and ’60s. He was known for producing low-budget B movies such as “Swamp Women” and “The Terror.” Rumor has it that Corman finished shooting “Little Shop of Horrors” in two days. Nevertheless, the show has a huge following.

Mercier's character Mushnik is the owner of Skid Row Florists. Mushnik is a cad, abusing and exploiting his two young clerks, Seymour and Audrey. Seymour discovers a strange plant and brings it to the shop. Only later does he discover that the plant feeds on human blood. While it's small, he obliges the plant with blood from his own fingers. As it grows, it needs more blood than Seymour can provide.

Against that backdrop is the resultant booming business at Mushnik's and a growing attraction between Seymour and Audrey.

Unfortunately, Audrey's beast of a boyfriend, Orin, can't mind his manners. And while Seymour doesn't exactly kill Orin, he's more than happy to dispose of the body by feeding it to the plant.

One bad turn deserves another, and eventually Mushnik ends up as entree for the man-eater. Seymour realizes that the plant has an evil plan to take over the world. Destroying it would end his fame and fortune, but worse, it could jeopardize his relationship with Audrey. It's a conundrum that Seymour struggles with. Throw in a skid row song and dance team, a network seeking to boost its ratings, and greed, evil, love and jealousy, and you have the show in a nutshell.

“It's not a deep show,” said Mercier. “It's pure entertainment.”

Paul Lucenti plays the hapless Seymour and Jessica van der Swaagh is Audrey. Carl Mercier is the manipulative Mushnik. Jonathan Demers is the sadistic dentist boyfriend who gets his just desserts while inhaling laughing gas. Adam Leidemer is the voice of the man-eating plant, while Dan Cote is the puppeteer. Actually, there are four representations of the plant as it grows from a small waif to a giant pod. Natasha Darius as Crystal, Angela Clarke as Ronnette and Alysse Barstow as Chiffon sing and dance their way through murder and mayhem on skid row.  Debbie Huard is the musical director and Annette Hebard is the choreographer.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and children aged 2 through 11 can be purchased at Killingly Parks and Recreation Department or at the Trink-et Shop in Danielson. Shows will be performed on Aug. 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Aug. 11 at 2 p.m.


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