At Stansbury High School this week, don’t feed the animals — er, plants.
SHS Stallion Drama’s “Little Shop of Horrors” will open Thursday and run through Tuesday, with no performance on Sunday. The musical, perhaps best known for a 1986 film version starring Rick Moranis, is about a skid row flower shop that gets a terrifying jolt of life when an exotic plant develops a taste for blood.
Glen Carpenter, SHS drama director, said the play brought with it some interesting challenges. Chief among them was bringing to life a carnivorous plant.
“You cast somebody as your plant voice, and then you cast puppeteers as your plants,” he said, noting that there are three sizes of plant, the largest of which requires two people to control it. “We had special rehearsals over Christmas break to coordinate their movements with the voice of the plant.”
The voice of the plant, Audrey II, is courtesy of Tage Gould, while Seymour will be played by Shawn Miller with Vanessa Brandaris as Audrey and Logan McBride as the owner of the flower shop, Mr. Mushnick.
Another challenge was getting the right R&B and doo-wop sound out of a cast from a small town in Utah, Carpenter said. Trying to convey the desired quality to the cast involved listening to a lot of soulful singers and discussing the timbre present.
“Kids at Stansbury High School have beautiful voices but they don’t really have that soul,” he said.
“Little Shop of Horrors” is a popular show, especially among high schools, Carpenter said — Grantsville High School and Tooele High School have both had productions within the last decade or so. Carpenter said he believes the appeal in part comes from the variety of themes in the play, which is a spoof on horror films of the 1950s and 60s.
“It’s such a fun hybrid musical. It has ‘boy meets girl, boy loses girl,’” said Carpenter, “and then into it you have a plant that’s trying to take over the world.”
Carpenter said many fans of the movie have been surprised at the change in ending that was made when it was translated from stage to film, but some have said they prefer the original stage ending, though it is considerably less happy than the altered one. The material itself also makes the play approachable for a wide demographic, he said.
“This is such a fun show for everyone. Even if they bring their little kids, we make sure they know the plant isn’t real so no one goes home and has nightmares,” he said. “There are enough surprises that even if someone’s seen it a million times they can still be pleasantly surprised.”
“Little Shop of Horrors” opens Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the SHS auditorium, and will play at that same time and location Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday. Tickets are $7.50 for adults, $5.50 for students and seniors, and $3.50 for children under 12 and SHS students with an activity card.
A discount of $1 per ticket is available by bringing in two cans of food to be donated to the Tooele County Food Bank, and discounts for groups of 10 or more may be arranged by contacting Carpenter at 435-882-2479 ext. 4510 or firstname.lastname@example.org prior to the show.