Giant, blood thirsty plant comes to life in Tyler Civic Theatre’s ‘Little Shop of Horrors’

Published on Thursday, 26 October 2017 11:46 - Written by LURAE STOKES, Special to the Tyler Paper

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A man-eating plant is taking over the Tyler Civic Theatre. “Little Shop of Horrors” aims for thrills and chills with fun music and memorable comedy scenes.

The musical tells the story of meek floral assistant Seymour who discovers a new species of plant he names Audrey II, after his crush, Audrey.

The play opens with a big musical number.

“By the time you hear the first note of it I think the audience will know we are not playing around,” said Stephen Rainwater, who stars as Seymour.

Audrey II promises Seymour riches and fame as long as he feeds it blood. Seymour soon discovers that the vulgar hip-hop singing plant is also thirsty for global domination.

“The story is of corruption and manipulation and how a good person can become a bad person, and the character of Audrey II is a catalyst of that,” Michael Barnhart, who voices the evil plant, said.

Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday and on Nov. 2 through 5 at the theater, 400 Rose Park Drive. Tickets can be purchased online at tylercivictheatre.com or at the box office.

“If I had a list of bucket list rolls, Seymour would probably be No. 1 on that list,” Rainwater said.

Rainwater describes Seymour as “a very meek, broken man. He has drawn the short straw of life and that needs to be conveyed in a very honest and true way.”

Rainwater said he shows a little of the sweeter side of his personality in Seymour.

Even though Seymour “has the best intentions at heart, he’s not jaded by the world at all, even though he’s been handed a bad deck of cards,” Rainwater said.

During the play, Audrey II transforms from a small plant into a giant man-eating size plant. Different puppets and models are used as Audrey II becomes bigger and bigger.

“Just trying to figure out how we are going to manage Audrey II,” has been a huge challenge, stage manager Grace Ensey said.

Toby Wilkerson, who makes small models, made the smaller Audrey II. Belhaven College donated the middle-size Audrey II puppet and the largest and final form of Audrey II came from the Dallas Puppet Theatre.

The movements of the larger Audrey II puppets will be controlled by puppeteers.

Barnhart said he has wanted to voice Audrey II for the better part of a decade and will be “putting my own little twist to the voice. I’m kind of going for a little bit more of a manipulative seductive tone with it.”

Barnhart will not be reading from a script. “My attention will be entirely on the puppet and what it’s doing” to make sure the voice matches the movements, he said.

Matthew Magill plays the demented dentist Orin, a unique villain.

“He’s a mix of Elvis and Matthew McConaughey,” Magill said. “He’s evil but he does it with kind of a grin and a smirk. ... I think that there is something so vulnerable about sitting in a dentist chair that  puts the dentist in so much control and you can imagine that for an evil person how that could be sort of a psychotic high.”

The play is being directed by Megan Magill, Matt Magill’s wife. She has extensive experience in musical theater. The couple often performs as a singing duo.

“Megan ... did a terrific job casting this play,” Matt Magill said. “It’s as well cast as lots of professional theaters. This is going to be a cut above the everyday.”

Holly Tarkon plays Audrey, Seymour’s sweet love interest.

Tarkon describes Audrey as a “beautiful pure angel in this mix of a story with people who are pretty rotten. ... Audrey is very honest and very sad and you don’t see that very much in heroines and I think that is such a beautiful thing.”

This play shows “just how flawed humanity is, but that there’s still so much beauty in all of the flaws and that two imperfect people can love each other perfectly,” Tarkon said.

 

OPEN WIDE

Tyler Civic Theatre is using the play to raise money for Bethesda Clinic, which offers dental care for reduced costs. Area dentists will play the role of a terrorized dental patient.

Set to perform are:

Oct. 27, Dr. Britt Ruby;

Oct. 28, Dr. Lynette Ogletree;

Oct. 29, Dr. Nat Hughes;

Nov. 2, Dr. Jarrod Leisch;

Nov. 3, Dr. Aimee Massey;

Nov. 4, Gerald Gray;

Nov. 5, Travis Markle.

 

CAST AND CREW

Seymour: Stephen Rainwater

Audrey: Holly Tarkon

Mushnik: Regi Fowler

Audrey II: Michael Barnhart

Orin (the dentist): Matthew Magill

Urchin: Sherry Berry

Urchin: Brittany Crowe

Dance Ensemble: Justin Forward, Sarah Smith, Kendall Phillips

Ensemble: Cedtrese Williams, Jiffnesia Horn, Helania Wilkerson, Cameron Davis, Trisha Wise, Alexis Leyva, Alan Zamarron

Audrey II Puppeteers: Billy Williamson, David Berthiaume

Production Team/Crew:Director: Megan Magill

Producers: Stan King/DeAnna Hargrove

Stage Manager: Grace Ensey

Techs: Jeremy Butler, Kerbie Langley