Beware of what you feed a plant.
That could be the ultimate lesson from the latest production by Sightlines Theatre at Thomas Haney Secondary, that will feature a plant that grows from about 25 cm wide and 30 cm high at the beginning of the show to just about two metres tall by the end of it.
Little Shop of Horrors is a combination of comedy and horror that tells the story of a florist shop worker named Seymour who discovers an unusual plant during a total eclipse of the sun that refuses to grow. What Seymour does not realize is the plant is really evil. It has come from outer space to infiltrate his life.
One day Seymour accidentally pricks his finger and discovers the plants thirst for blood. So, slowly Seymour feeds it more and more blood until it does begin to grow until it gets so big that he is feeding it humans.
Knight Klima-O’Connor plays the voice of Audrey II, the plant.
“It’s a lot of fun for me to be behind the microphone,” said Klima-O’Connor, who hasn’t had much experience with voice acting before.
“I think that the inflection is something I had to work on but I think it’s something I really excel at now,” he said about getting intonation in his voice for the role.
But, he said, getting that character right was very important to the whole show, considering he plays the villain.
“So it’s something I really had to work towards,” said Klima-O’Connor, adding that playing a role backstage is very liberating.
“Backstage I am free to do whatever I want and sing into that microphone,” he said.
One of the most unique aspects of this production is the growing plant puppet.
The plant starts off sitting on a desk with the puppeteer using his hand to operate the plant.
That is the first stage of Audrey II, said Klima-O’Connor.
During the second stage Seymour has to take it to a radio interview and it sits on his lap.
The third stage the puppet has grown big enough that the puppeteer, Grade 10 student Cole Bzowy, sits inside the plant with his feet in the roots and the rest of his body as the head of the plant, using two bars to operate the mouth as it talks to Seymour. At this point the plant is about 1.5 metres tall including the pot.
The growth of the plant culminates when Seymour starts to feed it people and requires two puppeteers, Grade 12 students Spencer Saulkner and Jin Mah, to operate it, lifting the upper bar of the mouth to be able to chomp down on its victims.
Camryn Vaughan, Grade 12, plays Seymour’s love interest, Audrey.
This is her first acting role in a production at THSS. Her previous roles include being a part of the publicity crew for the school’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank and a student director for last year’s comedy festival. However she has been involved with community theatre since Grade 1.
Audrey is a very pretty and very kind girl, said Vaughan, who has very low self esteem as she is involved in a bad relationship.
Vaughan said her favourite song in the production is Suddenly Seymour because it is a turning point in Audrey’s life where she recognizes her self worth.
Klima-O’Connor said there are about 17 songs in the production that are a lot of fun because of the freedom the actors have to ad lib.
“I have a lot of freedom to use my vocal range mixed in with my characterization to bounce up and down in octaves,” he said, adding that he is also able to toy with Seymour and make jokes at his expense.
The music is what brings this show to life, said Klima-O’Connor, the songs and the little plant that grows into a behemoth.
Thomas Haney Secondary’s Sightlines Theatre presents Little Shop of Horrors, 7 p.m. from March 2 to 6 at 23000 116th Ave. in Maple Ridge.
Book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, music by Alan Menken.
Tickets are $15 for adults, or $10 for seniors and students.
To purchase, people can call 604-463-2001, local 58494.