The newest show at the Capitol Theatre will feature everything from catchy musical numbers to an enormous, man-eating puppet.
Little Shop of Horrors, directed by Carrera Schroeder, is a comedy-horror musical that tells the tale of a hapless florist who accidentally grows a plant that feeds on human flesh and blood.
This isn’t the first performance Schroeder has directed for the Portal Players—but it is the first musical, as well as the first play involving puppets.
“That was also a new one for us,” she laughed. “[Puppets] can be very difficult. It’s like having another actor on stage. It definitely adds an new element, because they don’t always work the way you want them to.”
The crew works with four puppets in order to portray Audrey II, the talking, flesh-eating plant, and Schroeder says it helps that Portal Players’ puppeteer, Morgan Martin, is “very enthusiastic” in her role.
Because most rehearsals took place over the summer, Schroeder and her husband, stage manager Cody Taylor, worked hard to “break the show up into chunks” so that all actors could attend.
“We didn’t rehearse in order,” she explained. “Then it was a matter of stitching it all together in September. The actors have been amazing and flexible.”
Long-time Portal Player Elliot Drew plays the lead role of Seymour Krelborn, a meek florist shop worker who likes “strange and interesting plants.” Nicole Saugstad stars alongside him as love interest Audrey, while Chris Arthurs plays Orin Scrivello—Audrey’s sadistic dentist boyfriend. The voice of Audrey II is Hinatinyis Johnson and Shannon Currie plays flower shop owner Mrs. Mushnik, while Niklas Burton, Melissa Lowe and Bronwynn Nestegaard-Paul play a three-piece “Greek chorus” that occasionally narrates the story.
“We kind of have the insight into the show,” Lowe explained.
One member of the STAGES Youth Theatre program—Gabrielle Eyford—is part of the ensemble cast, and a number of other students are involved behind the scenes.
“It’s really awesome having them here, always enthusiastic,” said Schroeder.
Little Shop of Horrors was a low-budget 1960s B movie that was adapted into an Off-Broadway musical and then a Frank Oz film in 1986. Although fans of the film will get to enjoy the same songs, Schroeder says they can expect a few differences.
“The ending is a little different,” she hinted.
The show kicks off on Wednesday, Oct. 17 with a special “gala night” to celebrate the new, marquee curtains at centre stage of the Capitol Theatre. Tickets for this event are $50 (including a $25 tax receipt) and are available online (www.atthecapitol.org) and at the box office. The show will run on Fridays and Saturdays until Nov. 3, with shows starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance.
“It’s a fun show,” Schroeder promised. “The cast is spectacular. We’ve got amazing singers, talented dancers and puppets that eat people.”