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The City Journals

‘Little Shop of Horrors’ to devour Murray stage

Aug 10, 2020 12:29PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Murray Cultural Arts presents “Little Shop of Horrors,” Aug. 14 – 22. (Photo courtesy Murray City)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Tallying up Murray’s year so far: a pandemic, a protest, an earthquake, and now human-eating plants. “Little Shop of Horrors,” a musical love story with a carnivorous Venus flytrap, runs Aug. 14-15, 17-22, at the Murray Amphitheater.

To keep the actual fears of the COVID-19 pandemic at bay while hosting a musical production, Murray Cultural Arts will follow strict guidelines for performances.

“We use the Salt Lake County Health Department and Governor’s Events and Cultural Entertainment guidelines, which include an advanced cleaning regimen, and have significantly reduced the number of tickets to be purchased in order to follow social distancing procedures,” Murray Cultural Arts Manager Lori Edmunds said. “We also offer free masks to those in need, and hand sanitizer is always available. We encourage online ticket purchasing, and because we do not have assigned seating, we ask the patrons for their last name on our venue map so Salt Lake County Health Department can contact them if an outbreak occurs.”

Keeping actors and crew safe, Director Adam Wilkins uses similar precautions during rehearsals.

“We have taken temperatures every day; cast members who are feeling ill for any reason do not go to rehearsal; mandatory mask wearing, limited touching of props, no ‘kissing.’ The audience and cast are outside, socially distanced apart at 20% capacity, and no mask equals no admission. We are staying safe,” Wilkins said.

Wilkins, the theater arts teacher at Cottonwood High School, is no stranger to the Murray Amphitheater stage. He performed as Harold Hill in “The Music Man,” Mysterious Old Man in “Into the Woods,” and Officer Lock-stock in “Urine Town.”

“Little Shop of Horrors” follows a docile florist named Seymour and a talking Venus flytrap that he affectionately calls Audrey II, after his crush Audrey. Audrey, who Seymour pines after, is stuck in an abusive relationship with Orin, the bully, and Seymour lacks the confidence to pursue her.

While Seymour’s plant develops a taste for blood and eventually becomes famous, the larger it grows, Audrey II dispenses wisdom to the shy Seymour to help him win over its namesake.

As the plot hints, the play is a dark comedy that features ’60s style rock songs, including “Suddenly Seymour,” “Skid Row”—also known as “Downtown”—and “Don’t Feed the Plants.”

Playing the lead, Isaac Carrillo has been seen on stage in Sandy Amphitheater’s “Mamma Mia,” the Empress Theatre’s production of “She Loves Me” as Steven Kodaly, and in “Newsies” at the Draper Amphitheater. Elaia Echeverria takes on the love-interest role of Audrey. Echeverria starred as Aunt Maddox in Plan-B Theater Company’s “The Post Office.”

In the role of antagonist Orin is Josh Bone, who recently appeared in the local production of “Sweeney Todd” at Draper Historic Theatre. Doug Cahoon manages the killer puppet Audrey II. Supporting cast includes Teresa Jack as Crystal, Wendy Dang as Ronnette, Ashley Bates as Chiffon, Samuel Wright as Mushnik and James Carter as Bernstein.

Behind the baton will be Music Director Tamara Howell. Lily Hilden will make the calls as stage manager, with costumes by Assistant Director Maddiey Howell.

“Little Shop of Horrors” marked the second theater collaboration between songwriter Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman. Their partnership includes the musicals “Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Aladdin.”

“It’s interesting to see and hear the similarities between the shows,” Wilkins said.

The play started as a 1960 Roger Corman campy horror movie, which included a young Jack Nicholson. Menken and Ashman adapted that to a musical in 1982. That musical, in turn, was remade into a 1986 Frank Oz movie starring Rick Moranis and Steve Martin.

Wilkins, tongue-in-cheek, notes that there couldn’t be a better time to stage “Little Shop.”  

“As the world is seemingly spinning out of control with global pandemics, earthquakes, economic strife, and political upheaval, what better time to produce an end-of-the-world satire, complete with a horror comedy rock score and a giant carnivorous plant from outer space?”

Tickets (limited seating) are $10 for adults and $8 for senior/child and are available online at smashpass.com/murraycityevents or at the door.