Ziegfeld Theater Company shares ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ with Park City
November 15, 2016
Filmmaker Roger Corman, known for his B-movie horror flicks, set loose in 1960 a black and white film called "Little Shop of Horrors," the story about a nerdy florist who finds his chance for success and romance with the help of a giant man-eating plant.
The campy thriller, starred Jonathan Haze, Jackie Joseph and a carnivorous plant named Audrey II, served as the basis for a 1982 musical and 1986 film with words by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken.
The Ziegfeld Theater Company will bring the 1980s version to the Egyptian Theatre for a two-weekend run starting Friday, Nov. 18.
Music director Rick Rea said everyone in the Ogden-based company loves the production and was excited to bring it to Park City.
"It's a classic," Rea told The Park Record. "It's been done a lot, but we never have gotten sick of it because it's such a damn good show."
The challenge was to create a production that was different than others that have been performed over the years.
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"We wanted to make sure we brought something fresh to the show and not do the same thing that everyone has seen," Rea said.
So, the team drew on the style of B-Movie posters.
"We wanted to infuse the art that is associated with science fiction, since the stage show was based on a classic, black and white 1960 film," Rea said. "So, we decided to experiment with the comic-book like style in our set design, costumes and even in our make up."
The production team did extensive research and found a theme that fit.
"Within that visual theme we were able to find a really enjoyable way to retell the story that stays true to the heart of the story that everyone loves," Rea said.
The play that opens Friday is about star-crossed lovers Seymour, played by Eb Madson, and Audrey, portrayed by Aimee Chadwick.
"Many people will recognize Eb as Igor from 'Young Frankenstein' we did a little while ago," Rea said. "He was also Freddy Benson in 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' and is just a great actor.
"Aimee has a prolific Hollywood resume and is back in Utah," Rea said. "Her main passion is musical theater. This is her first show with us and it marks her reentering the theater scene."
The story also features a villain named Audrey II, a carnivorous plant, who needs blood to survive.
The voice of Audrey II is by Dee Tua'one, and the plant's puppeteer will be Nathan Vaughn.
"Dee has this deep voice that has an incredible range when he goes high," Rea said. "It's so soulful and something you haven't heard in Audrey II before."
Vaughn is an incredible puppeteer.
"My favorite number is 'Git It', and that's when the plant, Audrey II, has first spoken and is convincing Seymour to proverbially sell his soul." Rea said. "The vocals from the plant to Seymour to the back-up group are incredible, but I also think that just watching the puppetry of the plant is masterful. [Nathan] goes all the way in bringing Audrey II to life. And between that and the vocals, the staging and lighting, it blows me away."
As music director, Rea wanted to stick close to what Menken wrote.
"He experimented with a lot of styles, and my main goal was to stay true, but also play into the strength of our actors," Rea said. "I feel this musical is character driven and I didn't want the songs just to be heard, but seen."
By putting the characters first, Rea would ask the actors to do things that wouldn't necessarily show off their voices, but show honest moments within the roles.
"So, what the audience sees and hears is not only incredible vocals, but also some incredible acting," Rea said.
Producing "Little Shop of Horrors" is a personal experience for Rea and the cast.
"All of us have been involved in other 'Little Shop' productions, but this is our first time," he said. "We produce a lot of shows through audience demand, but we also produce shows that we have a passion for."
Rea was first introduced to "Little Shop" in 2005 at the Utah Shakespeare Festival.
"I was a high school kid just getting into theater and it was one of the most incredible productions that I had ever seen," he said. "This one stuck with me because it's perfect and entertaining.
"We are looking forward to bringing this to Park City," Rea said. "We have an amazing relationship both in business and personal, and it's been great having the opportunity to share our arts and bring it to a much wider audience than we could in Ogden."
The Ziegfeld Theater Company will perform "Little Shop of Horrors" at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St. The musical will run Friday and Saturday, Nov. 18-19, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 20, at 6 p.m. The curtain will also open Nov. 23, 25 and 26 at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $23 to $45 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com.