"Little Shop of Horrors" started its life as we know it in the form of a film directed by Roger Corman in 1960. The premise is fairly simple; the employee of a plant shop crosses two strains of plants and creates a sentient species that develops both a taste for blood and the ability to speak.
Seymour Krelboyne, the aforementioned plant-shop employee, has his entire world put into disarray as his plant (affectionately named Audrey Jr.) begins to need more blood than he (Krelboyne) can safely provide from a cut in his finger. The plant grows, Seymour's fame grows, and dark humor ensues.
Like 'Audrey Jr.', the story has grown since 1960, morphing into a musical - probably how it is most commonly recognized - a 1982 film remake and even an animated TV spin-off in the early 1990s.
“Little Shop of Horrors” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at the same time Nov. 2 and 3. There also will be a 2 p.m. showing Nov. 4. All performances will be held at the downtown theater at 100 W. Third St.
And, just like Audrey Jr., "Little Shop of Horrors" has consumed scores of cult fans, theater lovers, film buffs and fans of comedy for the past 50 years.
Among them are three of the people that will be putting the musical on at Williamsport's Community Theater League, 100 W. Third St., starting this weekend: Director Marie Fox, Music Director Jacquie Engel and actor Jonathan Hetler. Each will bring his or her own interpretation to their role, both on and off the stage. Fox sounded up to the daunting task of staging a musical - complete with ever-expanding carnivorous plant - on the Community Theater League's unique and intimate stage:
"Because [the] audience [sits] on three sides of the theater, you need to consider sight lines very seriously," Fox said. "I think that the set allows for all of the characters to be seen by all sides at some time ... Every production has its challenges, especially with coordinating so many things at once. We have an amazing cast and crew that has worked together so beautifully to bring this show to life. That's the really great thing about [the Community Theater League;] you never feel like you are working all alone. People always jump in to help."
One person that has undoubtedly jumped in to help is music director Jacquie Engel. She explained that the musical offers an opportunity to hear slightly darker, more adult side to the music of Alan Menkin,
"The composer of many great Disney films: 'The Little Mermaid,' 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'Aladdin;' 'Little Shop' was written before 'The Little Mermaid' (his first Disney hit) and you can hear themes in 'Little Shop' that crop up again in his Disney films. We sit at rehearsals and I say, 'That is right out of 'Aladdin,' or 'That sounds like a song in 'Beauty and the Beast.' This music is more edgy and a little twisted, so it's a riot to play and perform."
In the role of Seymour Krelboyne is Jonathan Hetler. He had this to say about his character, "Seymour is a sweet, loyal type of guy that is a little backwards in the social arena. At the same time, he is constantly being influenced by others throughout the show (whether it be [his] dad, girlfriend, dentist or plant). It isn't until the very end that he discovers his courage and backbone."
Hetler has had to use a bit of his backbone and a lot of his diaphragm for this role.
"Vocally, this has been one of my most demanding singing roles," he said. "Out of the 16 songs in the entire show, Seymour sings 12 of them. Needless to say, it is a vocal workout and requires an extensive warm-up every night!"
Then of course, "There's a talking plant to feed and interact with."
Theatergoers may see "Little Shop of Horrors" at 7:30 Friday and Saturday and at the same time Nov. 2 and 3.
There will also be a 2 p.m. showing Nov. 4. All performances will be held at the downtown theater. For more information about the show, or the Community Theater League and its upcoming shows, visit www.ctlnet. org, or call 327-1777 any weekday between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.