'Little Shop of Horrors' at Pinelands Regional High School This WeekJust in Time for Halloween
Plants can be a real pain, as any Southerner dealing with kudzu or New Jersey gardeners who can’t give away their bleeping zucchini can tell you. And then there’s Audrey II, the botanical star of “Little Shop of Horrors,” being performed this week (“Just in Time for Halloween”) at Pinelands Regional High School.
“Little Shop of Horrors,” described as a “comedy horror rock musical,” has been a favorite of community and high school theater companies for years. Based on a 1960 low-budget film that was directed by Roger Corman and became a cult classic, it features music by Alan Menken and a book and lyrics by Howard Ashman. The musical style is early 1960s doo-wop, rock ’n’ roll and Motown, thus the inclusion of a singing “Greek Chorus” made up of Chiffon (Corrine Levy), Crystal (Toni Ann Simione) and Ronette (Olivia Cruser) in the cast. When the original production of “Little Shop” closed on Nov. 1, 1987, it was the third-longest-running musical and highest-grossing production in Off-Broadway history.
Back to Audrey II. Oh, she was cute enough – if “strange and interesting” – when Seymour (Ryan Dubinin), a schmuck of an orphan who works at the rundown, skid-row flower shop of Mr. Mushnik (Alex Fromosky), purchased it from an old Chinese man in the midst of an unexpected solar eclipse. But after Seymour named the plant for Audrey (Alison Waldron), his co-worker and object of his affection, and it started attracting customers by droves to the impoverished business, Audrey II became a monster. A blood-sucking monster, as Seymour discovered after accidentally pricking his finger in the plant’s presence.
Audrey II (voice provided by Alfredo Ramirez; movement provided by Brian Birks), shoots up like a gangly teenager while enjoying a diet of Seymour’s blood, bringing Seymour celebrity and Mr. Mushnik wealth. But Seymour is getting weak from providing Audrey II with nourishment, and the plant is becoming not only huge but menacing. Not only that, it talks!
Audrey II suggests that Seymour murder somebody so she can have a good feast. The idea revolts Seymour – until Audrey II hints he should murder Orin (Nelson Roy Furman III), a sadistic, nitrous oxide-inhaling dentist who dates Audrey and constantly abuses her. When Seymour sees Orin slap his unrequited love, he, packing a handgun, decides to pay the dentist a little late-night visit in his office.
Will Audrey II be properly fed? Will the nerdish Seymour shoot Orin? Will Seymour and the original Audrey fall in love and live happily ever after? Will Audrey realize her dream of living in the suburbs, which she sings about in “Somewhere That’s Green”?
A matchbox of our own
A fence of real chain link
A grill out on the patio
Disposal in the sink
A washer and a dryer
And an ironing machine
In a tract house that we share
Somewhere that’s green.
There are even more questions. Just where did Audrey II, apparently a never-heard-of-before species, come from? And if she continues growing and becoming more powerful, can anybody stop her? And what would happen if a company called World Botanical Enterprises has its way and takes leaf cuttings of the plant and sells them all across America?
Well, you’ll have to attend “Little Shop of Horrors,” being performed at Pinelands Regional on Wednesday through Saturday, Oct. 24, 25, 26 and 27, to find the answers to all of these questions. Curtain time each evening is 7. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and students and may be purchased at the door.
— Rick Mellerup