Suzanne Tate talks ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ with the Old Paradians

OPTC, which was formerly known as the Old Paradian Theatre Company, is a relatively new company formed to provide a theatrical vehicle for Alumni of the Christian Brothers of Parade College. The company was founded 2 years ago, and Little Shop of Horrors is their 3rd show.

The rock musical Little Shop of Horrors, by composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman, was first performed Off-Broadway in 1982. It is based on the original 1960 American comedy film written by Charles B. Griffith. It is somehow very apt that this show has become so popular with community theatre groups, as the original movie was filmed in 2 days, using hand-me-down sets and a budget of only $30,000!

Little Shop of Horrors is the story of a down-and out skid row floral assistant who becomes an overnight sensation when he discovers an exotic plant with a mysterious craving for fresh blood. Soon “Audrey II” grows into an ill-tempered, foul-mouthed, R&B-singing carnivore who offers him fame and fortune in exchange for feeding its growing appetite, finally revealing itself to be an alien creature poised for global domination!

OPTC’s team that have brought Little Shop of Horrors to life consists of Luis Rivera, as both Director and Choreographer, Daniel Puckey as Musical Director, with support from Daniele Buatti in the role of Assistant Musical Director, Costume Designer Emma Williams and Designer Ash Whelan.

Rivera is enjoying the challenge of tackling the demanding combination of both Director and Choreographer. He tells us that “directing has always come naturally to me and I have always enjoyed dance (although I’m not a trained dancer), but as a director I can see the movement needed to drive a scene and through this vision I believed that I could do the duo.” He goes on to explain that the attraction to LSOH for him was his love of the music and the opportunity to work with a smaller than usual cast. When asked about the influences upon his direction of LSOH, Rivera tells us that he believes that the characters and their development are the key to the success of the show. If the actors bring to life the world of Skid Row, he says, the audience will follow them and admire their stories. “If you allow the characters to mock the world of Skid Row, the stories are lost and the illusion is broken.”

Angie, who plays Audrey, has performed in a previous version of LSOH, and has loved the show for a long time. “I absolutely love both the stage show and musical film. Ellen Greene’s ‘Audrey’ is one of the most exceptional musical theatre performances I have ever seen, and I fell in love with the character.” In contrast, James Terry, who plays Seymour, has never seen or heard the show before. “…it’s been one of those things that I’ve always wanted to see and now I haven’t seen anything else but it for the past few months!!” Angie and James are joined onstage by Jenter Paul Zilm as Mushnik, Kathleen Amarant as Crystal, Clare Stevenson as Chiffon, Sarah Calsina as Ronnette, Robbie Whilton as Orin and Kristopher Brown, Rachel Edwards,
Alexandra Knight and Tom Senior as the featured ensemble. Audrey II comes alive with the combination of the voice of Dave Barclay and the puppetry skills of Andrew McDougall.

A small cast show can lends itself to forming a very close team, and James mentions how great it has been to work with such a tightly knit team. Angie has also enjoyed working with OPTC for the first time. “Rehearsals have been a lot of fun… The Artistic and Production teams are wonderful and I’ve enjoyed getting to rehearse at the performance venue.”

When asked about favorite moments in the show that the audience can look forward to, the team has a range of responses. Angie explains, “My favorite part is musical, when Seymour sings the “I don’t knooooowwwww” response to the request that he feed human beings to a plant. It’s such a gorgeous vocal for a Faustian dilemma!” Rivera says the audience will be blown away by the costumes, and he is particularly enjoying ‘Suddenly Seymour’. There is something for everyone in Little Shop of Horrors – wonderful music inspired by early rock and roll, doo-wop and Motown, amazing costumes and as Angie says, “I love a stage gimmick, and you can’t really top a singing plant!”

Come ‘Somewhere That’s Green’ and see OPTC’s Little Shop of Horrors from Friday 12th – Sun 14th Nov and Thur 18th – Sat 20th Nov at Rivergum Theatre at Parade College, Bundoora.