Arts and Entertainment

Orangeville Music Theatre to present ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ play in the Opera House

June 8, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Great fun is coming up for Orangeville Music Theatre (OMT) fans, who will have the chance to see two fun shows playing at the Opera House, beginning with that crazy musical Little Shops of Horrors. 

The show runs on the weekends, opening June 9 through June 17.

Keith O’Connell is back as director and choreographer after audiences enjoyed the “Mama Mia” production he directed before the pandemic in 2019. That was the year he joined OMT, and he is very happy to be back after the enforced break.

Little Shop of Horrors (music by Alan Menken/ book-lyrics by Howard Ashman) is the extremely eccentric story of a down-beat flower shop employee, Seymour Krelbom, living and working in a low-brow “skid-row” neighbourhood, who is secretly in love with his co-worker, the beautiful blond Audrey and is intimidated by his boss, the shop owner, Mr. Mushnik. The lovely Audrey, we eventually discover, is intimidated by her “sadistic” boyfriend, a dentist, Orin Scrivello.

Of a full cast of “about 20,” James O’Connor takes the stage as Seymour, while the object of his affection, Audrey, is played by Sarah Martin. The shop owner, Mr. Mushnik, is down to James Gawthroupe, and the terrible dentist is Johnny McGroarty.

It appears that a celestial occurrence gives sudden birth to a strange-looking plant, resembling a Venus fly-trap, much to Seymour’s grand mystification. He names the plant Audrey II after his beloved and brings the plant into the shop. 

Within a short time, the new Audrey II begins to decline and, by dint of fate and pricking his thumb on a rose, which bleeds and attracts the apparently alien plant, Seymour feeds his blood to it, and the saga begins in earnest.

Mr. O’Connell talked about the various stages of the plant, Audrey II’s tremendous growth through the blood donations Seymour arranges (no spoiler details here!). Audrey II flourishes so well and becomes so big that the truth could only be provided by the props coming from Drayton Entertainment. As director Keith O’Connell explained, “Drayton rented us the plants; ‘Audrey IV’ is six foot high. There are four different versions of the plant: a desk top, hand held bigger and then much bigger. We’ll have to take a lot of care to use them in the theatre.”

After three months of rehearsals, he is delighted with how they have gone: “We’re ready to open,” he declared. “It’s more of a technical rehearsal now. With four days for lighting, we go in ready with the lighting designed and they [Theatre Orangeville’s technical staff] are very supportive. They run the board.”

The cast is very enthusiastic, we were assured. “They are a family. OMT has been around for about 45 years. There is a core group of people and they are happy to welcome new talent that want to help it grow.”

This is Mr. O’Connell’s 40th year in community theatre, all around Toronto as a director and choreographer for a number of theatres, so he told us.

“It’s an escape to create a different world you’re part of,” was his comment about what keeps him passionate about being involved in community theatre. “I hope people continue to allow community theatre in their lives – it’s live entertainment and is much more affordable than going to see a movie.”

OMT’s music director is Heather Holmes, the stage manager is Elaine Whitehead, and Bobbi Ferguson designed and created the costumes. 

To entice us all to get tickets to see Little Shop of Horrors, Keith O’Connell said, “This is two and a half hours of fun. You’ll believe these plants are alive – the sheer talent. I’ve never been so excited to have an audience see what we’re bringing.”

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