There are probably very few people out there in the world that have not seen some version of “Little Shop of Horrors.” Whether it’s the 1960 cult classic starring Jack Nicholson, the 1982 off-Broadway musical, or (my personal favorite) the 1986 movie version starring Rick Moranis, everyone knows– at the very least– the premise behind the story: a man-eating plant. Who would have ever thought that a man-eating Venus flytrap and a down-on-his-luck loser from the gutters of New York City would win the hearts of millions? I think we all, in some way, identify with each character in this show: the lovable loser, the beauty with low self-esteem who allows people to walk all over her, the money-hungry horrible boss, the sadistic creep dentist, and the world dominating man-eating plant. It’s why so many people love this show and why it sells out performances across America.
As you can imagine, those are some pretty big shoes to fill for any actor. Being so well loved, audience members expect certain aspects of this show to be consistent in every production. As an example, the iconic “Audrey voice” created by the incredible Ellen Greene in the original 1982 off-Broadway production. As a stage actor, we are taught to never copy a performance, making each role individual to you and your production. So how does an actor meet these expectations but, at the same time, make the characters unique?
In preparation for this show, I did what anyone would do. I watched the movie– just to refresh my memory of the story and its various characters. I only watched it once. I didn’t want to copy Rick Moranis (who happens to be one of my favorite actors) and what he did with the role of Seymour; I wanted to see the humanity he brings to the role. Every character in “Little Shop of Horrors” is written as a bigger-than-life personality and it is easy for an actor to simply rest on that concept. I wanted more. I wanted different. I wanted “Justin.”
I chose to focus on Seymour’s humanity and innocence, showing that– although a “dork” or “loser”– Seymour has feelings and dreams, just like everybody else in the show. In their own way, each character wants to be loved. Audrey moves from one horrible relationship to another, looking for a guy that will take her “somewhere that’s green.” Mr. Mushnik equates success and money to love and pushes Seymour to obtain them for him. Orin, the sadistic dentist, idolizes the one person that has ever loved him… his mother. Seymour? He just wants to feel loved. Growing up as an orphan, he never felt that and he certainly doesn’t feel true “love” from his employer and landlord, Mr. Mushnik. In some ways, he doesn’t even know what “love” feels like.
This is what I explored while creating my character, drawing on my own life experiences. I’ve been in love. I’ve been heartbroken. I’ve been happy. (For the record, I’m a happy person– just being dramatic… I’m an actor after all!) We’ve all had them; they’re what make us human. I dug deep into these past experiences and remembered how I felt in each situation. The good. The bad. The ugly cry. In our production, you’ll see Seymour go through each of these and I hope that it will make you fall in love with him. That’s all he’s ever really wanted anyway.
Playing Seymour Krelborn has been on my bucket list for almost two decades. I am thrilled that Weathervane has given me this opportunity and trusted me to create him my way. That’s one of the many reasons I love working at Weathervane Playhouse. The theatre embodies their mission, bringing complete strangers from different walks of life together to create something beautiful and share it with the world. This is not possible without support, encouragement, and trust. Which is exactly what I experienced during my brief time at Weathervane– not just from my cast, but also from every staff member who touched this production. People I’ve only met once come up to me backstage and say: “you’re doing a great job… keep it up!” Believe me, this can be rare in theater. We hear a lot about the negative side of theater: actors fighting, understudies putting glass in other actor’s shoes to take over principal roles, etc. These happen somewhere, but it’s not the case in Akron.
I hope to see you in the audience one night and whatever you do… “DON’T FEED THE PLANTS!!!”
- Thursday — October 13 — at 7:30 p.m.
- Fridays — Oct. 7 and 14 — at 7:30 p.m.
- Saturdays — 8 and 15 — at 7:30 p.m.
- Sundays — 9 and 16 — at 2:30 p.m.
For tickets, please visit www.weathervaneplayhouse.com or call 330.836.2626.
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