Strange and interesting plants

Thursday, October 11, 2012
Chiffon (Meghan Vosberg) performs alongside Seymour (Marc Benedict). Audrey II, the infamous botanical experiment, slowly grows throughout the film, cared for unconditionally by the flower shop assistant, Seymour. (Photo by Randy M. Cauthron)

Spencer Community Theatre opens its production of "Little Shop of Horrors" tonight, featuring the little flower shop on Skid Row with more to offer than just roses.

The SCT production, directed by Shaley Cullen, tells the story of the down-on-his-luck Seymour (Marc Benedict) who, with the help of strange Chinese plant clippings and a "total eclipse of the sun," concocts the botanical wonder he names "Audrey II," after the love of his life.

Audrey II is not doing well, however, and Seymour will go to nearly any length to keep this little plant alive. What it craves is fresh, human blood, and Seymour must find a way to feed it without draining himself in the process.

As the plant grows, his luck follows suit. The uniqueness of Audrey II (controlled by Brent Berends, voiced by Dan Mayes) draws interest from all over town, and even reaches NBC and LIFE Magazine, which want to feature them in a television show and on a magazine cover.

The success also solicits the attention of fellow florist Audrey (Michele Mayes), whom he has secretly pined after for some time. Audrey is caught, however, between her abusive boyfriend Orin (Matt Brandenberg) and her daydreams of a picturesque life with Seymour, "somewhere that's green" away from Skid Row.

Orin grew up torturing small domestic animals. His mother, seeing the unnecessary pain he caused, destined him immediately for dentistry, a career he takes seriously from that point on.

Orin (Matt Brandenberg) and Audrey (Michele Mayes) get ready for their date. While Orin is a less-than-ideal match for Audrey, she describes him as the "only guy I got." Secretly, however, she dreams of a simpler life with her co-worker, Seymour. (Photo by Randy M. Cauthron)

Pre-Audrey (and Audrey II), Seymour was stuck in his mediocre life, ill-fitting sweaters and mismatched ties. He was unable to see a future for himself. Rescued from a troubled past by the fatherly Mr. Mushnik (Rolf Mosbo), the control he gains from Audrey II gives him confidence to continue forward in his own life.

Seymour is overwhelmed by the instant success, though he struggles between the fame and the continuing search for a family. Audrey II, in a sense, has become his child. Between the tumultuous phrases "My future's started," and "It's much too dangerous ..." he never stops caring for his beloved plant, saying, "I've done terrible things, but not to you. Never to you."

The catch, however, comes after tremendous sacrifice. The plant, despite his introverted parentage, has developed a swagger fitting for an R&B baritone and a motive separate from Seymour's. Fed well, it has grown impressively from a coffee-canned Grover into a bloodthirsty maniac the size of the shop it inhabits.

The show is funny, similar to "Rocky Horror Picture Show," though the humor is necessary. Certain instances, when imagined in a less-ridiculous situation, are revolting. Without the humor, most of the show would be too disturbing to watch.

SCT's production is an interactive experience, leaving the audience with one final warning before the curtain call: "Don't feed the plant."

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