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Audience’s appetite for man-eating plant satisfied

The+Audrey+II+puppet%2C+voiced+by+Jared+Riddle+and+controlled+by+James+Solis%2C+is+the+man-eating+plant+that+plagues+Seymour.
The Audrey II puppet, voiced by Jared Riddle and controlled by James Solis, is the man-eating plant that plagues Seymour.

The Audrey II puppet, voiced by Jared Riddle and controlled by James Solis, is the man-eating plant that plagues Seymour.

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The Audrey II puppet, voiced by Jared Riddle and controlled by James Solis, is the man-eating plant that plagues Seymour.

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Audience members in Alumni Hall sat in their seats, voices anxiously bouncing off the walls as they took in the set’s garbage cans and windows on each side. Finally, Zachary Gipson, director, announced to the audience that the musical would begin shortly after they finished adding 20 extra chairs for the unexpectedly large crowd that had appeared. When the lights dimmed and the music began, the world melted away.

On April 22, “Little Shop of Horrors” opened with excitement and energy, transforming the room into a dangerous world with hungry and manipulative man-eating plants. Gipson only had five weeks to prepare for the show, seven if one includes auditions. Theaters usually have twice as much time to prepare for a show.

Although the show started off shaky, with the opening number of the Trio feeling tired and dry as they explained the prologue of the plot, the Trio progressively got better as the show continued. The main and supporting cast made the musical more energetic when they appeared on stage. Audrey, performed by Laura Riggle; Seymour, performed by Travis Ziegler; and Mushnik, performed by Douglas DeLaughter, did a spectacular job of making their acting witty and powerful.

Ziegler portrayed Seymour as a kind and sincere character, despite him being the owner of the man-eating plant. Audience members could not help but feel empathy for Seymour as they experienced his journey with him and saw everything he did was for his love interest Audrey.

Riggle’s performance of the complex character of Audrey, on top of her honest and passionate acting, was brilliant. She physically became the character, showing the emotions of Audrey not just through her facial expressions but through her body movements as well. She kept an incredibly believable fake accent throughout the show even when she sang.

Aaron Davis, who played Orin, Audrey’s abusive boyfriend, stole the show with his invigorating, psychotic, and scary performance. His acting made an unlikeable character likeable, and that is something that not many can accomplish. With Davis’ performance, he had a hoard of fangirls in the back of the audience screaming for him and cheering him on.

The exquisite and creative design of the over 10-foot body of Audrey II, the man-eating plant, was intelligently crafted. Built from scratch with what Gipson calls his “secret recipe,” the gigantic, artificial plant appeared to be a real plant with large green leaves and long brown roots. It resembled a venus fly trap. James Solis controlled the plant’s movements and he made the plant talk, eat people, and even made the plant to appear as though it was breathing. Jared Riddle, who played the voice of Audrey II, mastered the plant’s smooth, intelligent, and manipulative voice and singing. The brilliant duo matched each other’s movements carefully, becoming one throughout the show.

Gipson’s directing of the musical was brilliantly and talentedly done. The lighting strategically represented the mood of the play, the set was carefully and artistically crafted, and the choreography was simultaneously simple yet incredibly complex. Gipson is a master of emotion, playing not only on the emotions of the characters but the emotions of the audience.

The audience left after experiencing both plenty of laughs and a few tears. “Little Shop of Horrors” is a well-performed and well-directed musical that does not disappoint.

 

“Little Shop of Horrors” receives 4.5 out of 5 stars.

 

Ticket prices for “Little Shop of Horrors”

Adult general: $18

Senior citizen: $16

Children 12-18: $10

Children under 12: Free

PNW students: $10

Tickets are available online at pnw.edu/little-shop-of-horrors or at the door in Alumni Hall.

Shows start at 8 p.m. on April 29, and 3 p.m. on April 30.

 

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