Skip to main content

The City Journals

Don’t feed the plants at DHT’s ‘Little Shop of Horrors’

Mar 27, 2019 01:49PM ● By Katherine Weinstein

Mikelle Atkinson, Jenny Jones and Amanda Rogers play doo-wop singers who provide the narration in “Little Shop of Horrors.” (Photo courtesy Bailey Loveless/Draper Historic Theatre)

By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]

With all the troubles in our world, at least we can say that humanity is (so far) not under threat by giant alien plants with a taste for human flesh. 

"In this political climate when things feel scary, this show will show you that things aren't so bad," said "Little Shop of Horrors" director Jared Daley with a laugh. The well-known musical comedy infused with black humor will be presented at Draper Historic Theatre throughout the month of April.

The Draper Historic Theatre production harkens back to the original which premiered Off-Broadway in 1982 under the direction of lyricist and writer Howard Ashman. Ashman, who later wrote lyrics for such beloved Disney films as "The Little Mermaid" and "Beauty and the Beast" with composer Alan Menken, gave "Little Shop of Horrors" a very dark ending. That ending was changed when the show became a hit movie in 1986 starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene and Steve Martin.  

"Howard Ashman made sure that his director's notes about the ending made it into all subsequent printings of the script," said Daley. The Draper Historic Theatre production will follow his original vision.

Choreographer Ashley Ramsay explained that the production is not "a caricature of the movie. We're playing it as real people under extraordinary circumstances." She continued, "It's a familiar show told in a new way. We're heightening the story to give people a new experience with it."  

Based on a 1960 B movie directed by Roger Corman, the story is about a lowly florist shop employee named Seymour who comes across a very unusual plant that initially promises to bring him fame and fortune. Basking in the glow of his discovery, he finds the courage to save his coworker Audrey from her abusive boyfriend, a sadistic dentist.  The plant, however, needs a lot more than water and sunlight to grow, and the cost of keeping it alive proves to be Seymour’s undoing.

David Peterson, who plays Seymour, is making his debut at Draper Historic Theatre in “Little Shop of Horrors.” “It’s wacky and such a departure from reality,” said Peterson. “The music is incredible. There are very passionate people working very hard on this production.”

An all-girl doo-wop trio played by Mikelle Atkinson, Jenny Jones and Amanda Rogers sings the narration for the show in the style of groups like the Ronettes and Chiffons.  The music in “Little Shop of Horrors” captures the sound of rock and roll in the early 1960s as well as Motown.    

Westminster College student Savanna Forester plays Audrey and has a personal connection to the 2003 Broadway production of the musical. “My uncle played Seymour on Broadway and I grew up watching the show,” she said. “I’ve always loved it.” She describes playing Audrey as a dream role. “I have to play her how I would feel if I was her,” explained Forester.

Paul Miller, in the role of the unhinged dentist, is also putting himself into his character’s shoes. “I had to ask myself, do I play it like Steve Martin or put my own spin on it?” he said. Miller enjoys villain roles in musical theater. He has played Bill Sykes in “Oliver!” and most recently played Pharaoh in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” in American Fork. “The bad guy has the best songs!” said Miller with a smile. His wife, Vicki, is working on costumes for “Little Shop of Horrors” and has spent the past several weeks shopping for vintage looks.

One of the cast’s youngest actors is playing the oldest character. Grumpy florist shop owner Mr. Mushnik is played by Xavier Turner who is 17. He moved to Utah from Kansas because of the vibrant theater community in the valley and hopes to attend the musical theater program at the University of Utah. Turner encourages audiences to see the Draper Historic Theater production. “It’s a dark comedy that makes you laugh and feel things. It is truly one of my favorite shows.”

“Little Shop of Horrors” will be presented at Draper Historic Theatre April 5, 6, 8, 12, 13, 15, 19, 20, 22, 26, 27 and 29. Draper Historic Theatre is located at 12366 South 900 East in Draper. The ticket hotline is 801-572-4144 during performance weeks.  Tickets may also be purchased via the theater website at  HYPERLINK "http://drapertheatre.org/" drapertheatre.org