Weathervane Playhouse brings the comedy/horror rock musical “Little Shop of Horrors” to its main stage with Audrey II, an R & B singing plant that causes mankind to “suddenly encounter a deadly threat to its very existence.” Audrey II requires blood to survive, and Seymour feeds her need and his own desires for fame, fortune and love.
“For this production of ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ I wanted to focus on the characters’ story of greed,” said Bob Russell, director. “All of the characters’ motivations are dictated by this; some approach it in a positive way, and others are more selfish or malicious.”
Russell is a first-time director at Weathervane and is an adjunct faculty member with Kent State University. He has performed professionally throughout the Cleveland area. As a director, his work has been seen in Northeast Ohio and Northwest Pennsylvania; at regional, community, youth conservatories and university theatres. He received his Masters In Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Acting from Kent State University, and he is a member of Actors Equity Association.
The set and costumes are an important storytelling element of this production, Russell said.
“The 1950 B Movies were very historically inaccurate,” Russell said. “To create our ‘vintage’ concept for the show, we decided to utilize some historically accurate costume props, and combine them with items from today. This way we are using the same approach for our production as the B Horror Movies.”
Ralph Cooley, a long-time Weathervane volunteer with an MFA, put his skills to use to create the four evolutions of puppet Audrey II, which is operated by puppeteer Frank Lucas. Each puppet is larger than the last as the plant’s appetite grows. Cooley has spent the better part of a month and a half building the four puppets which range in size from that of a football to nearly seven feet long.
Cooley, who once took a puppet class from Muppet creator Jim Henson, was excited to have a chance to build the Weathervane puppets.
“In the previous production, the Weathervane puppets had been too heavy and cumbersome to move. The largest took three people to lift,” said Cooley as he took a break from adding the finishing touches on Audrey II. “The goal was to make the puppets as animated as possible.”
Little Shop of Horrors runs from September 29 to October 16. Tickets are $26 for adults, $10 for those 17 and under, $13 for college students with a current ID, and $22 for seniors on Thursday and Sunday performances only. Tickets are available at weathervaneplayhouse.com or by calling the box office at 330-836-2626.
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