The cast members, musicians and directors of “Little Shop of Horrors” are putting the final touches on the show this week as they prepare for opening night.
The play, a musical about a mild mannered florist who finds fame and fortune with an unusual plant with a most disturbing diet, will be presented by Foothills Theatre at Dixon Auditorium on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door.
“This is Foothills Theatre’s 46th season on stage here in Elkin and every year the talent in the community never fails to impress,” said Director Leighanne Martin Wright. “The show is quite entertaining from the quirky jokes, dark comedic themes, strong singing voices and rocking music. There will be no shortage of enjoyment this weekend.”
Though never seen on stage, Ray Fencl, is one of the integral members of the cast, giving voice to Audrey II, Seymour’s sinister botanical beast.
“It’s definitely fun being over the top,” Fencl said of his role. “It’s a lot of fun for me to do something funny and silly even though the topic is pretty black.”
Fencl said he was having a great time with the show and was impressed by the young talent in the cast. The music of the show is also a favorite, he said.
“I enjoy especially the dentist’s numbers and ‘Suddenly Seymour’ is such a beautiful ballad,” he said. “I especially like the doo wop music from the ’60s when I was young and remember the original, unlike most of the cast who are too young to remember that. ”
As the Audrey II puppeteer, Daniel Wilson, is another behind-the-scenes performer who truly gives life to the show.
“My favorite part of operating the Audrey II puppets is that even though I’m confined to either silence or Ray’s speaking, I can still move freely and bring out the funny moments with my movement,” Wilson said. “The funniest part about being cast as the puppeteer is that earlier in the spring semester at school, I made the decision that I wanted to become a voice actor and as soon as I decide I want a profession in which I’m heard but not seen, the very next role I perform is where I’m ‘seen’ but not heard.”
Wilson attends North Carolina State University, where he is majoring in communication. This is his second role with Foothills Theatre, but 10th role with Wright as the director. Wilson’s favorite roles include Harry the Horse in “Guys and Dolls” and the Tin Man in “Oz.”
Starring in the lead roles as brainy botanical genius, Seymour, and blonde bombshell with a taste for bad boys, Audrey, are Benjamin Caswell and Bailey Atkins.
Caswell moved to Elkin from Tallahassee, Florida, eight months ago. He has performed in more than a dozen shows. Some of his favorite past roles include Hysterium in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and Snoopy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Caswell said he was grateful for the opportunity to perform for the first time with Foothills Theatre.
“My first experience with Foothills has been nice in that it’s given me an outlet to perform on stage, which I haven’t done in over a year,” Caswell said. He also said that he loves the role of Seymour because it reminds him of Macbeth, a dream role of his.
“What I like most about Seymour is that on the surface he looks to be pretty one-dimensional. But as the story progresses and he makes a lot of compromising decisions, he changes into someone that’s almost unrecognizable. It gives me a lot of room to explore and to delve into his psyche and, most of all, to have fun undergoing this huge character transformation on stage,” Caswell said.
Caswell also said the show is just fun and that is a big part of the enjoyment for both the audience and the actors.
“What I like most about the show overall is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously,” he said. “The playwrights were clearly having a lot of fun with it; so we get to have fun and not take ourselves too seriously while performing, which I enjoy.”
Bailey Atkins, 16, of Mount Airy performed for the first time with Foothills Theatre last summer in “Oliver!” She also had a large role in Foothill’s winter show “Mama Won’t Fly.” She has been in a total of 11 shows including “CATS” and “Legally Blonde.”
“I love playing Audrey because I’ve never had a chance to be a leading lady before and she is one of the most interesting characters I’ve had the chance to play,” Atkins said. “I have loved ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ for years and when I got the news I had the chance to actually play Audrey, I was jumping off the walls!”
The cast also includes Gary Maxey as Mushnik; Alexa Maxey, Aspen Jackson and A.J. Mantero, all of Elkin, as Ronnette, Chiffon and Crystal; Morgan Harrison of Elkin as Orin Scrivillo; and in the ensemble, Ben Erlandson, Brian Rector, David Nielsen, Christie Harrison, Nicole Freeman, Claire Grider, Amy Rector, Michael Jones, Cassidy Transou, all of Elkin; Stacey Libbert, Harper Lee Libbert, Neil Green, Gracie Briggs, all of State Road; Kitsey E. Burns of East Bend; and Vicky Zickmund of Mocksville.
“Little Shop of Horrors” opens Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Elkin High School’s Dixon Auditorium.
For more upcoming shows and auditions for Foothills Theatre productions, visit facebook.com/foothillstheatre.
Kitsey E. Burns may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.