Interviews with cast/creatives of Little Shop of Horrors

The Melbourne season of Little Shop of Horrors has begun – it’s on for a limited amount of time, so go check it out if you have yet to do so yet. I’m planning on seeing it a second time before I write a proper review, so I thought what better way than to share some interview quotes, with the cast/creatives behind the musical, during the sneak rehearsal preview – as seen on this blog.

CONTAINS SPOILERS!

For more information and tickets, go to: www.littleshoptour.com.au/

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DEAN BRYANT Director

Deanon the puppetry
“I also want to point out our brilliant actor, who is in the plant right now, Dash Kruck. Dash actually has quite a sizable role in the show. He plays all of the cameo people who show up and are bewitched by the plant. Him, and the rest of the cast, in Act II actually operate our big-mama puppet, which turns up after interval, which fills this whole set and takes 6 of our cast to operate. It’s a mammoth mammoth thing designed by Erth.

“All of our cast, none of whom had done puppetry before, except Josie Lane who had been in Avenue Q in this theatre a few years ago, had never touched a puppet, so it was really  an experience to have them learn how to control something, which is an incredibly fluid thing. Esther had touched a puppet quite a lot over at the Regent for a year in King Kong and I think it touched her as well – and this one does too! (laughs).”

Deanon the abusive relationship between Orin and Audrey
“One of the things that I think we found very tricky in rehearsals, if you recall from the movie, there is a major subplot of Audrey dating a sadistic dentist who beats her, and in 2016, it’s really tricky material, because it was played for laughs. And we didn’t want to do that, but the script is set up that way.”

Deanon production firsts
“One of the other world first tricks of the production is an entirely black and white Act I, as kind of an homage to the 1960s film it started as. And an entirely technicolor Act II as an homage to the famous 1980s film that we all grew up loving.”

Deanon challenges
“The real challenge of Little Shop of Horrors is that everyone knows the movie back to front – like you could practically speak the lines of every character back, because they’re so iconic – especially Ellen Greene’s (who played Audrey in the 1986 movie adaptation) – so Esther, who has said it’s her dream role, we really had to talk a lot about how to redefine this character. And of course, you just do what you do with the play – you go back to the words on the page and say ‘what are the facts of this story?’ and then you build it bit by bit.

But getting the movie out of my head was definitely one of the biggest challenges. Also the play version is really different to the movie version. I think a lot of our audiences are shocked that it doesn’t end the way the movie ends. It couldn’t end more oppositely than the movie. People get a little bit shocked and think, ‘Dean Bryant’s done that to it!’ And I’m like, ‘no, I just did word for word what’s in the script’. So that’s been the challenge.”

Deanon Brent playing Seymour and voicing Audrey II
“I knew I was going to cast Brent as soon as we were doing it, because he’s the perfect Seymour. But of course, as soon as you remember Brent, you think in Rock of Ages he sings rock music (s0) he could sing the plant. What would it mean for him to sing the plant? So then we did this workshop where we tried it. Audrey II was played by an Office Works stationary box in that. It was quite impressive puppetry there (laughs)

But we just sat around the table and went, ‘what does it mean thematically?’ We even went as far to what’s the science of it and what we decided as soon as Audrey II receives any genetic code i.e. blood, it takes on the traits of the human that it’s taken blood from. So, as you’ll notice as the show goes on, that it’s Brent’s voice all of Act I, (and) as soon as he eats the dentist, the dentist joins, Mr Mushnik and finally Audrey, by the end of Act II all of the dead people are voicing the plant. So it’s really showing how they literally feed into what makes the plant.”

Deanon this stage adaption receiving international attention
“Alan Menken (composer) got told about it in an interview with the Adelaide Advertiser, on the spot, and he went, ‘What? They’re doing what? Oh my god, but there’s that duet in Act I! Oh my god, I’d love to see that – that sound amazing!’

We’re also had, just coincidentally, Broadway producers through, because we have so many musicals on here in the country at the moment, who have all been gobsmacked with how good it is. As an Australian you don’t ever want to get your hopes up too high but it’s lovely to be getting that big stamp of approval. The recognition is great. I honestly never expected it to be received as glowingly as it has been. It was great that Sydney got all the ideas we were trying to do. Which is really joyful.”


BRENT HILLSeymour/Audrey II

Brenton voicing two characters at once
“It’s tricky. It’s difficult. It’s challenging. When we first experimented with it in workshop, yeah it’s very tricky. And then in rehearsal, you want your body to do the voice to accompany the voice, but, of course, you can’t – you have to split it, so the physicality of Seymour to make him submissive, so I think I’ve just split my brain. That’s how it happens. That’s how it works.”

Brenton people leaving the theatre not realising he does the voice of Audrey II as well
“There are a lot of people who leave (when the show finishes), and especially at half time, go hang on who’s the voice of the plant? And that’s been tricky. We don’t want to hide it by any means, but we also don’t want to make it oblivious and make it very obvious, so it really is a middle balance.”

Brenton getting the voice in sync with Dash moving the plant
“In the beginning, yes, it was quite tricky, that’s just about Dash and I becoming in sync and you know having different ways of doing it. That’s what’s great, because it does slightly change every show, as it should. And that’s just about Dash and I listening to each other but he does an amazing job. I couldn’t do it without him. I couldn’t do it without everyone involved. It’s a real team effort. And it’s important to remember that.”

Brenton getting the role
“I talked about the show with Dean two years prior to this. We did a show called DreamSong for the comedy festival and during a break of that I was singing Skid Row, just had it in my head. Then we started talking about the show and I was saying how I was thinking about just doing a one man version, because I love the show and it hadn’t been done for a while. Maybe that planted the seed of it.”

Brenton being back at the Comedy Theatre
“I’m so happy to be back here. I’m so happy and proud, and glad to be in the comedy theatre especially, and back in Melbourne. But the comedy theatre is the theatre that  brought me here five years ago for Rock of Ages, so it feels like a homecoming for me. But being back here, feeling that energy, it’s great. It’s a perfect size theatre. You really can feel everyone in the house. It’s just absolutely wonderful.”

Brenton what audiences can expect
“What Melbourne audiences can expect, you know, juggling, fire breathing, snowboarding – we have snowboarding in the snow (laughs) They can really just expect a good show, a good team, a wonderful story and beautiful, fantastic, inspiring music. Menken is exceptional and particularly  the team of Menken and (Howard) Ashman (writer) – this is their first labour of love that they did together and it’s fantastic. I love it.”

Brenton if he’s noticed audiences singing along to the songs
“We haven’t noticed it, not too much, yet, but, because everyone loves those particular songs, I think you can feel at times people start to (hums Suddenly Seymour). That’s great, that’s wonderful, but it’s certainly not a singalong experience – yet (laughs).”

Brenton his favourite songs from the show
“It will change from night to night actually, but I love them all for different reasons. Suddenly Seymour is fantastic, it’s a beautiful piece, (and) I get to kiss Esther, so that’s always great. And Mushnik and Son because it’s not well known from the film so I’m always interested to see how an audience, who have seen the film, react to that particular number, and that’s quite exciting. (And) Skid Row is always my favourite.”


ESTHER HANNAFORDAudrey

Estheron playing iconic Audrey
“My dream role. I’m so excited. I feel so honoured. She’s beautiful. She’s in such a bad, awful, dark position but she sees it all so positively and in this kind of fantastical way. That’s such a joy, for someone to be in such a dark place, but to go, ‘I’m not going to see it like that. I’m just going to imprint my own positive image over the top of all of it.’ And, as a person, that’s pretty enjoyable to do.”

Estheron the relationship between Audrey and Seymour
“It’s wonderful. It’s such a beautiful relationship. They both love each other. But there’s so many obstacles in their way, and it’s so nice that they have a little moment where they actually get to be together. ”

Estheron the abusive relationship
“(I) just had to play the truth of it, go back to the truth and the drama in all of the scenes. I hope that it’s so sort of absurd and that’s where the comedy comes from – not because it is funny but because it’s so crap that that’s why people are so uncomfortable and they laugh. And they get an opportunity to laugh at something that is grotesque and painful.”

Estheron what makes Audrey her dream role
“I love her vulnerability that she has, and that she’s so odd and the shows quite absurd. It’s a comedy. They’re the things that drew me to it – and the score, the soul, R&B, soundtrack. It’s all the things that I kind of really like.”

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