La PORTE — La Porte Little Theatre Club audiences will get to meet the colorful denizens of Skid Row — including its resident man-eating plant — this weekend.
The local community theater will kick off its 2019-20 season with the beloved dark comedy musical, "Little Shop of Horrors," this Friday. The show will run the next two weekends, Oct. 11-13 and 18-20, with showtimes at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays.
Based on the 1960 cult classic film of the same name, "Little Shop of Horrors" centers on a downtrodden florist, Seymour Krelborn (Tom Coe), who works for Mushnik's Skid Row Florists, a run-down flower shop located in a rough neighborhood. To draw more customers to the store, Seymour and his co-worker, Audrey (Samantha Bean), convince their boss, Mr. Mushnik (Douglas Campbell), to showcase a mysterious-looking plant Seymour found during a strange solar eclipse.
The florist is unable to get the sickly-looking plant to grow, however. That is, until he pricks his finger while caring for it, discovering that it has an unnatural appetite for human blood.
A blend of comedy, romance and horror, the musical has appeared on stages across the world since its Off-Broadway debut in 1982 — including the La Porte Little Theatre, which staged the show in 1989.
"It's a fun, family-friendly show," said Katy Gartland, who is co-directing the 2019 rendition with her husband, Tim. "If people haven't seen it before, it may end up being their new favorite."
Helping the couple bring the show to life is a 21-member cast, which includes a mixture of Little Theatre veterans and newcomers to the community theater's stage. The players, along with the show's sizable production and music team, have been preparing for Friday's debut since August, Tim said.
Notably, three La Porte High School teachers star in the production, including choral director Tom Coe, who plays Seymour.
The educator, who has never done "Little Shop of Horrors" before, said he has enjoyed getting into the shoes of the play's leading man. In particular, Coe has relished the chance to explore the dark, Faustian elements of Seymour's otherwise affable character, the actor said.
"Plus, I get to do [a New York] accent," he joked. "I love doing accents."
One of Coe's co-workers, LPHS Performing Arts Center Director Rich Snyder, will voice Audrey II, the carnivorous plant at the heart of the play's plot.
Snyder, who has performed at the Little Theatre since he was a teen, is excited for the opportunity to participate in the show, which he described as "fun and campy."
"I get to have a lot of fun with this role," he said. "It's an over-the-top character, so I can't go too far, in many ways."
Besides working on lines, vocals and choreography with the performers, the co-directors and the production team have also poured hours into tackling the many technical challenges to pull off the upcoming shows.
The team has designed and built an extensive set featuring movable doors — a first for the Little Theatre. They've also installed several monitors to allow music and backstage production crews to more easily view the action happening on-stage.
Of course, one of the most impressive aspects of the show are the detailed and colorful puppets depicting Audrey II. Puppeteer Ian Pappas will bring the monstrosity to life, which continues to grow in size throughout the story.
Finally, Music Director Andrew Tallackson will lead the five-member band, who will back up the singers during the show's nearly 25 musical numbers.
With high expectations for the production — the theater is staging an extra Saturday matinee both weekends — the cast and crew are ready for their big debut this Friday.
"The whole show has come together," Tim said. "We're really fired up."
"I love this show so much," Katy added. "I can't wait to see it over and over again. It's going to be awesome."
Tickets for "Little Shop of Horrors" cost $15 for adults and $12 for students. Tickets are available at laportelittletheatreclub.com.
The La Porte Little Theatre Club is located at 218 A St., La Porte. Those interested in learning more can call (219) 362-5113 or visit laportelittletheatreclub.com.
Seymour Krelborn — Tom Coe
Audrey — Samantha Bean
Mr. Mushnik — Douglas Campbell
Orin Scrovillo — Matt Robinson
Crystal — Erin Imer
Ronnette — Holly Welsh
Trudy — Shania Povlock
Chiffon — Laurel Blankenship
Judy — Lindsay
Snyder Audrey II Voice — Richard Snyder
Audrey II Puppeteer — Ian Pappas
Wino One and Interviewer — Nick Bello
Mr. Bernstien, Mrs. Luce, Skip Snip — Nick Bello
Customer and Martin — Alexander Bonner
Kasi Jackson, Wrigley Hemphill, Donovan Barrier, Caleb Cripe, Norah Gartland, Grace Murphy, Addysen Morros and Alexus Passmore