Ben Summers Culture Critic
The Company is performing the story of love-struck Seymour Krelborn’s botanical adventures in The Little Shop of Horrors on Friday, November 16 at 8 p.m., Saturday, November 17 at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday, November 18 at 2 p.m. In the musical, Seymour, a nerdy employee in a struggling New York flower shop, falls in love with the beautiful Audrey but finds himself unsure of how to steal her away from her “bad boy” boyfriend. The arrival of an interesting and strange plant lures customers into Seymour’s workplace and finally pulls Audrey into his life. However, the newfound popularity of the shop comes at a price, as Seymour learns that the plant only feeds on fresh blood. Soon, the voracious hunger (and size) of the plant becomes too much for one small body to handle, and Seymour is left with a morbid responsibility: find more blood to feed the plant, which was christened Audrey II. If that wasn’t enough, he also begins to hear a voice when his back is turned on the plant, a voice which he is not entirely sure is coming from the street outside. Little Shop of Horrors mixes science fiction, horror, and comedy with catchy musical numbers. There’s a man-eating plant! There’s a sadistic dentist who literally laughs in the face of pain! There’s a Greek chorus made up of street urchins, which sings in the alleyways of New York! There’s laughter, blood, love, and puppets! It’s a show that’s funny enough to entertain the kids and dark enough to capture the adults. While I’m a huge sci-fi fan and the very thought of a talking, man-eating plant brings back memories of lazy Saturdays watching They Live!, Teenage Zombies from Outer Space, and similar masterpieces, the music is as good, if not better, than the plot—which is saying a lot. The show can go from a tear-jerker on poverty to a swinging, raucous number dripping with menace and wit. Little Shop of Horrors is one of my favorite musicals for its devilish and self-consciously absurd sense of humor. The Company’s rendition of the show absolutely will not disappoint. Little Shop of Horrors is junior Evan Hrobak’s directorial debut, having replaced Alexander Coffroth. Hrobak has big shoes to fill, but he’s positive that the Company is just as strong as ever. New actors and old friends have to “come together and work on a project that is totally outside their professed professions and majors. It’s a fun show, an exciting show, and we have a talented cast, but it’s really a great example of the amazing things SVC students can accomplish.” Hrobak said that Little Shop of Horrors is one of his favorite plays for its portrayal of a “Nietzchian idea of artistic distance. You’ve got this terrible situation of people living on skid row, and the play talks about the themes of sexual abuse and poverty. Then you have this ridiculous man-eating plant to make the entire thing comic. It’s a really great way to bring serious social issues into the absurd.” Sure, that’s one way to think about it, but I personally like it for the singing puppets. Little Shop of Horror’ puppets are legendary, and any performance of the show has to include a series of elaborate puppets to portray Audrey II. SVC’s puppets are impressive and definitely the highlight of the show. Trish Allan’s multiple Audrey II puppets are wonders of cloth, felt and wood 4×4’s. The tiniest Audrey II fits in the palm of Seymour’s hand, squealing and mewling for pinpricks of blood, while the monstrous Audrey II’s chomping jaws and grinning face are larger-than-life and controlled by two crewmembers. They’re appropriately low budget while still being over-the-top to perfectly suit the B-movie feel of the show. Little Shop of Horrors’ main monstrosity steals the spotlight, the show and even some limbs. Hrobak praised the skill and determination of the Company this year, saying that there were “people dropping out, others learning their lines in weeks, and people coming in last minute to help and really perform.” The over-the-top ability and spectacle of the Company suits the extravagance of the play, and Little Shop of Horrors’ dark comedy promises to light up the SVC stage.