Mention the 1986 film “Little Shop of Horrors,” and most people probably remember Steve Martin as a merrily sadistic dentist, or Rick Moranis as the lovestruck Seymour who people-pleases a hungry plant with his own blood.
Yes, it was campy and silly, but another layer lies beneath the comedy.
“There’s a real story about capitalism in there, and abuse and socioeconomics,” said director Nathan Halvorson, who’s also associate director of performing arts for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. “There’s a lot going on in this play besides the caricatures we think of when we recall the show. It’s still fun and silly, but there’s some real meat in there, too, which makes it interesting.”
TheatreWorks will present the musical Thursday through May 19 at Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater at Ent Center for the Arts.
Seymour (Randy Chalmers) and Audrey (Michelle Colette Ingle) work at a flower shop owned by Mushnik (David Hastings), where business is decidedly not booming until Seymour suggests they display an unusual plant he acquired during a solar eclipse.
This is no regular plant, as Seymour learns one night when he accidentally pricks his finger and the plant slurps up the blood.
Halvorson is no stranger to the show; this will be his fourth rendition of the 2003 Broadway musical based on the 1960 low-budget film that starred Jack Nicholson as a dental patient who lives for pain. Halvorson starred as Seymour the first time and directed and choreographed the second and third shows.
“There’s not a show I know better than this one,” he said. “We’ve done some fun things. We have a male urchin in the Greek chorus, which people don’t usually do. There are all sorts of interesting choices we’ve made this time around.”
An eight-person cast, including the trio of doo-wop Greek chorus singers, belts out an endless score of songs beloved by Broadway fans, including “Skid Row (Downtown),” “Da-Doo,” “Feed Me (Git It),” “Somewhere That’s Green” and “Suddenly, Seymour.”
Arguably, Audrey II, the carnivorous plant, is the star. She comes in four sizes, from hand-held to about 6 feet tall, large enough for the puppeteer (Jonathan Andujar) to crouch inside and operate the plant’s movements and also for the plant’s victims. Audrey II’s belligerent vocals are provided by actor Rakeem Lawrence.
“The show is a lot darker than the movie in many ways,” Halvorson said. “It’s still very fun, but there are some twists and turns the movie doesn’t take, and a bunch of songs that weren’t included in the movie.”
JENNIFER MULSON, THE GAZETTE, 636-0270, JEN.MULSON@GAZETTE.COM