Actors Guild of Parkersburg to stage ‘Little Shop of Horrors’

Photo by Jeff Baughan Audrey, portrayed by Alexis Parsons, and Seymour Krelborn, portrayed by Josh Woodard, sing during a scene in the Actors Guild production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” which opens a three-weekend run on Friday.

PARKERSBURG — “Little of Shop of Horrors” opens Friday at the Actors Guild of Parkersburg.

The show is about Seymour Krelborn, a mild-mannered assistant in a flower shop who finds a plant that grows into a talking voracious man-eater. Seymour names it Audrey II after a co-worker on whom he has a crush.

The musical has its roots in the 1960 movie “Little Shop of Horrors” by Roger Corman. An off-Broadway show opened in 1982, then made into a movie in 1986.

Hector Velez provides the voice of Audrey II in the Guild production.

“I wanted to do that part since I was a kid,” Velez said.

Photo by Jeff Baughan George Hines, left , is the Puppeteer for Audrey II. Hector Velez, right, is the voice of Audrey II in the Actors Guild production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”

He has watched the 1986 version numerous times, so many times he has the voice of the carnivore down pat.

“I already had the voice down before I auditioned for it,” said Velez, who last performed with the Guild 13 years ago in “South Pacific.”

The 1986 version also is Josh Woodard’s favorite and has been his favorite movie since he was a kid. Woodard was cast as Seymour in the Guild production.

“Seymour has been my favorite,” he said.

Woodard is a veteran of the Guild stage and has performed in “The Addams Family,” “Spam-A-Lot,” “Sister Act,” “Big Fish” and most recently “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Woodard worked with Ben Bradley to construct the Audrey II man-eating puppet.

“We’ve tried to stay true to the campiness of the source material, the 1960 Roger Corman cult classic, upon which the musical is based,” said director Brent Null.

Null cited the abilities of a cast in the local production, saying the audience will receive an “immersive experience” and be taken to Skid Row upon entering the lobby and theater at Eighth and Market streets in downtown Parkersburg.

“The audience will truly feel like they’re part of the show,” he said.

Directing the show has been a dream come true, Null said. He’s a fan of both the 1982 off-Broadway production and the 1986 film that starred Rick Moranis and Ellen Green.

“It’s such an iconic piece of theater due to the popularity of the 1986 movie. However, theater-goers need to be aware there is much more music in the stage production and they changed the ending for the movie to make it more upbeat,” he said.

Joe Reeves plays Mr. Mushnick, the owner of the flower store. While he has acted in community theater elsewhere and at Ohio State University, Reeves said he hasn’t been on the stage for 25 years.

He credits the cast and crew for refreshing his memory.

“It’s a very, very strong team I’m working with,” he said. “It didn’t take me long to fall back into it.”

Musical director is Mike Dotson. Assistant director is Betty Dotson. Choreographer is Amy Leach. Steve Hardy is production assistant. Bartolo Cannizzaro is the technical director.

Other members of the cast are: Audrey II puppeteer, George Hines; Crystal, Mara Capati; Ronnette, Joanie Owen; Chiffon, Jaliyah Townsend; dentist Orin Scrivello, Shawn Price; and Audrey, Alexis Parsons.

Curtain time on opening night Friday is 8 p.m., of which Friday is nearly sold out, but tickets remain for the nine subsequent performances. Performances also are scheduled 8 p.m. Saturday, June 22, 23, 29 and 30, 11:30 p.m. June 30 and 2:30 p.m. June 17 and 24. Saturday is hospitality night.

As a fundraiser, residents can donate $1 in the name of a celebrity who will be devoured by Audrey II during a performance. Victims can also buy their way out of dinner by matching the donations in their name.

The celebrities in the food bank are Doug Brooks, Mike Cameron, Lisa Starcher Collins, Scott Davidson, Scott Eckels, Simon Hargus, Robert Heflin, Paul Hicks, Jane Irvine, Mad Max, Lisa McCray, Keith McClung, Alvin Phillips, Chip Roedersheimer, Wendy Shriver, Patrick Ward and Lawrence Yeater.