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Horticultural Horror Set To Hit The Capital!

Horticultural Horror Set To Hit The Capital!

A horticultural feeding frenzy is set to hit Wellington when one of Broadway’s longest-running and gleefully gruesome stage musicals – Little Shop of Horrors – opens in a new production at Wellington’s Downstage Theatre in November. This musical comedy classic is about a ‘nobody’ botanist, the girl he secretly loves and the man-eating plant that changes their lives forever.

Little Shop of Horrors is directed by Murray Lynch, with musical direction from Louise Clark, movement direction and set design from Lynch’s longtime collaborators Wendy Wallace and John Parker respectively. Costume design is by Gillie Coxill and Lighting Design by Phillip Dexter. Plant creator Carlos Wedde gives the kooky finish to the creative team with his exciting adaptation of Martin P Robinson’s original Audrey II (the plant!) design. Bringing a slice of downtown New York to downtown Wellington, will be the live five-piece band of James Illingworth, Wade Reeve, Alistair Isdale, Cameron Budge and Louise Clark herself, performing a score that evokes the rock n’ roll and Motown sounds of the late 50s and early 60s.

“Little Shop of Horrors is an hilarious and charming spoof – a boy meets girl, plant eats world kinda thing,” says Murray Lynch. “It’s nonsense with legs – well, tendrils actually!”

The story, set in Mr Mushnik’s florist on New York’s Skid Row, sees humble shop assistant Seymour become an overnight sensation after discovering a mysterious and exotic plant. The secret love of Seymour’s life is Audrey - whose boyfriend, Orin, is a sadistic dentist hazardous to her health! As Seymour’s extraordinary plant – Audrey II - matures into a foul-mouthed, R&B singing carnivore, it offers him fame, fortune and Audrey, but only if Seymour continues to feed its strange craving for fresh, human blood.

Based on the 1960s cult horror movie, Little Shop of Horrors enjoyed popularity as an original off-Broadway musical hit by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken and later achieved huge success as a 1980s musical movie remake starring Steve Martin and Rick Moranis.

Downstage’s new production features Waimihi Hotere (Ronnette), Bella Kalolo (Crystal) and Kirsten Te Rito (Chiffon) as the narrating Motown-style chorus who guide the audience through the grimly hilarious twists and turns of Seymour’s tale. Seymour is played by Julian Wilson, and Ciara Mulholland is Audrey - both making their debuts at Downstage in these lead roles. Jason Ward Kennedy will relish his role as Audrey’s villainous dentist boyfriend, and Steven Ray is Mr Mushnik, Audrey and Seymour’s long-suffering boss. These two were last seen at Downstage as partners in crime in Lynch’s production of Big River. Bringing the vitality and ‘soul’ to the ever-expanding, most memorable horticultural horror that is Audrey II, are Jason Te Patu as the voice and Frank Cowlrick as the unseen manipulator.

Thrilled about gathering such an exciting cast, the season also brings Murray Lynch’s career full-circle with Downstage Theatre. It is the second time Lynch has directed Little Shop of Horrors at the theatre – the first being in 1989. After a 17-year hiatus, Lynch says he is looking forward to revisiting the show with a fresh cast and creative team, and is certain Wellington audiences will enjoy it whether it’s their first or second time. The season also signals his departure from the role of Director of Downstage, announced earlier this year.

“Little Shop of Horrors is a true crowd-pleaser and will appeal to a wide audience as terrific pre-Christmas entertainment – especially with our cabaret seating getting you near the action!” says Lynch. “Our only proviso however is, ‘Don’t feed the plants’!”

Little Shop of Horrors is at Downstage Theatre, Wellington from Tuesday 1 November to Saturday 10 December. Special performances include a Halloween Preview on Monday 31 October and a Guy Fawkes Late Show on Saturday 5 November.


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