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Going green on the stage
Sunny Sequim hosts one of the most delightfully dark musicals to grace the botanical musical scene.
“Little Shop of Horrors,” based on the Roger Corman film and Charles Griffith screenplay, sprouts to life at Olympic Theatre Arts starting Feb. 7 through Feb 24.
The play centers on Seymour (played by 15-year old Danny Willis), a florist assistant, discovering a mysterious plant that turns his life upside down. The catch is well known, Seymour’s plant, which he brands Audrey II after the girl he loves, talks and sings and thirsts for blood.
Seymour shoots to stardom through Audrey II but this comes at a high cost, said director Loren Johnson.
“The theme is how far down to perdition is he willing to travel,” Johnson said.
Bringing that tension to stage is a new challenge for the actors since Audrey II is brought to life through four interchangeable puppets. One puppet towers upwards of 6 feet.
Actors Steve Schultz performs the movements for the plant while Colby Thomas speaks and talks.
Willis said the duo is doing an amazing job at bringing Audrey II to life. He compares Thomas’ voice acting to a cross between (songwriter) Tom Waits and Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky. “One thing is for sure, the plant’s voice sounds like he’s smoked a lot of cigarettes,” he said.
The two leads, Willis and Nikki Adams, playing Audrey, find working with a puppet for the first time a thrill.
“This is the hardest I’ve ever worked on a show,” Adams said. “We’ve been working real hard on it. It’s going to be a really fun show. You experience every single emotion while watching this.”
Both Adams and Willis find their parts as dream jobs.
“I’ve loved this play for a long time and ever since I started doing musical theater I wanted to be in it,” Adams said.
Through the many incarnations of the play and movie versions, her goal is to show Audrey with more depth than other actresses portrayed her in the past.
“She’s a lot smarter, but she doesn’t know any other way to live,” Adams said. “She has abandonment issues but is naive like Seymour, which makes them perfect.”
Willis comes to Sequim from Florida after moving here with his family last July. He took several roles in a children’s theater back home and recently starred in Sequim High School’s “Up the Down Staircase.”
He said “Little Shop” is his favorite musical, too, and sees Seymour equally as confused as Audrey.
“He doesn’t have anything to base his life off with not much experience,” he said.
Brimming with music, “Little Shop of Horrors” features some catchy numbers directed by Jaie Livingstone with choreography by Laurel Herrera.
Actors and the director each find favorites in the play that people will want to sing along to after the show.
Adams is drawn to the enchanting solo “Somewhere That’s Green.”
“I can see everything that she sees,” Adams said. “It’s a staple and it’s really cute.”
Johnson said this is one of his favorites, too.
“Audrey pours her heart out,” he said. “It’s a simple daydream of a simple matchbox house and being with a sweet guy like Seymour.”
Willis loves “The meek shall inherit” toward the end of the play.
“The good and evil sides come to a climax and get let loose,” he said.
Though the ending may surprise some, Willis said everyone in the production has worked hard to present a powerful performance.
“I think if people were to come in with an open mind, they’d leave wanting to try something new,” he said. “That’s the kind of energy we want to have.”
Other cast members include Sean Peck-Collier, E.J. Anderson III, Mindy Gelder, Jaden Rockwell and Anna Unger.