LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS Offers Audiences Little Extra “Something”

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on June 6, 2014

What sells tickets? What brings in audiences?

It’s a quandary which I have tried for the last 31 years to wrap my mind around, and as of yet I have no answer.

But I know, for some, it’s simply name recognition. For others, it’s a dusty vinyl recording their parents or grandparents had which was worn white with use. Or they saw the film version or maybe even caught it on television. Or perhaps they performed in it in high school or college, or someone in their family was in it or saw it before — somewhere, somehow, some way.

For some it’s a falling chandelier — or, rather, a chandelier slowly gliding peaceably to the stage floor (Phantom of the Opera). For others, it’s a helicopter seeming to fly down from the flies (Miss Saigon). Then there is the large barricade which rolls down front to the foot lights, big enough to fill the entire stage and is almost a character unto itself — large enough to have the cast crawl, climb or hang off it as it turns full circle (Les Miserables).

Audiences now seem to want more than that holding a mirror up to nature, showing good and evil, as Shakespeare writes. Today’s audiences want that little extra “something,” a bigger bang for their buck.

Little Shop of Horrors offers all that and more, with a man-eating little house plant which grows in starts and spurts, finally eating the leading man, his girlfriend, the shop’s owner and, at last, a dentist. Cardboard helicopters, plexiglass chandeliers and waste piled high from the basement cannot compete with this tongue-in-cheek, upbeat musical.

Roger Corman made a low-budget “B” movie whose only claim to fame is that it introduced Jack Nicholson to filmgoers. And the off-Broadway show gave us Ellen Greene. I had hired her for her first job, a little show at Club Bene in Morgan, New Jersey. She was in the stage and movie versions some time later. She paid me back by stopping her cabaret act at Reno Sweeney’s, a swank watering hole in The Village to call out, “My first director is in the audience tonight.”

You would want an entire season of chandeliers, helicopters and barricades, but that isn’t always possible. Audiences expect more from us at the Roxy.

We are building an audience from the grass roots up. We start again with the Parks and Rec Summer Theatre program, and we continue in the fall with our curriculum productions and our Saturday School of the Arts, who produce such shows as our recent Tarzan and next season’s The Aristocrats.

Little Shop of Horrors — featuring Ryan Bowie as Seymour, Alicia Jayne Kelly as Audrey, Steve Olivier as the voice of Audrey II, Howard Snyder as Mr. Mushnik, Ryan Cupello as Orin, and Samantha Carroll, Laura Donnelly and Emily Rourke as the Doo-Wop Girls — continues through June 28 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7pm and Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, with a 2pm matinee this Saturday.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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