Zari Watts | Contributing Writer
Since 1982, the cult comedy musical about a man-eating plant “Little Shop of Horrors” has been consuming the hearts of theatergoers. Thanks to the submissions of students, faculty, and community members, Hampton is holding the classic as the musical for this theater season.
For the second time around, students and locals alike will have seats to see what all the rage has been about. The musical was written by Howard Ashman and composed by Alan Menken based off of Roger Corman’s 1960 black comedy film of the same name.
The plot is centered around the endeavors of a woeful young flower shop worker, Seymour, who raises an alien plant that craves human flesh. Love also comes into play in this little shop of horrors, between him and his coworker Audrey.
The leads in “The Little Shop of Horrors” are Duane Richards II as Seymour and Susie Chavez as Audrey. Duane, a senior strategic communications major, leadership studies minor from Maryland, joined the cast as a familiar face to Armstrong Little Theater. After attending high school at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in DC, he started performing in plays at Hampton his freshman year.
Duane also directed last year’s hit “One Wild and Crazy Night.” Duane discusses his connection with his character Seymour: “in a lot of ways Seymour’s very eager to please people, which I kind of feel like I am sometimes…I think he’s kind of an every man in that sense.” Duane delivered on stage.
Susie, a junior English arts major from San Diego, California landed the lead role in her first play at Hampton. She did this with one audition; an audition she initially had no intentions of doing.
When asked how she got the lead female role, Susie responded, “it was really a complete surprise to be cast as Audrey…I actually didn’t plan on auditioning at all.”
She laughed as she added, “and somehow I managed to make it through the terrible dance auditions.” Susie commented on how she fit Audrey saying, “oh, she’s nothing like me. It was definitely an experience; it was like discovering a whole new person.”
Despite the differences between the actress and her character, Susie gave a phenomenal performance Thursday night.
Kendall Chancellor, a Sophomore marine and environmental science major from Houston, TX was an audience member for Thursday night’s show. She was actually in Little Shop of Horrors in high school and said that she would indeed see this version again. She adds “It was funny. They did a really good job.”
Director Dr. Karen Ward, chair of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, actually directed the musical in the late 90s. Even after directing the play previously, she shares that she “really liked it the first time,” and “liked it better the second time.”
Ward credits her experience this time around to “working with such a wonderful cast.”
She raved about them, saying “they’re terrific, it’s like a dream cast…such gifted and talented performers. Every one of them, I would work with again.”
She went on to explain what made them so exceptional.“You have to be a triple threat to be in this play. You have to be able to act, you have to be able to sing, and you have to be able to dance.” Ward also recognizes her fantastic team: the choreographer, musical director, scenic and lighting designers, and sound engineer.
Beyond the extraordinary contributions of the cast and supporting team to this musical, an unexpected element also added to the show: a professional live orchestra. Dr. Ward discloses that she “hired an orchestra to come in and play.” She elaborates, saying that “it’s rare in a college that students are able to perform with a live orchestra. They are really getting an experience that you would not get at most universities across the country.”
Dr. Ward concludes saying, “I think that the students will get a kick out of it, but we’ll have to go on Yik Yak to see what they really think.”
The updated show times for the play are Friday, October 16th, Saturday, October 17th at 8pm, and Sunday, October 18th at 3pm.