Thingamajig’s dark comedy ‘Little Shop Of Horrors’ opens Friday

Photo courtesy Jeff Laydon
Mr. Mushnik (Carl Morrow) and young Seymour Krelborn (Kevin Stevens) peer into the yawning, blood-thirsty “mouth” of a strange and rapidly growing plant named “Audrey II” — the featured puppet in the Thingamajig Theatre Company’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”

By Bill Hudson
Special to The PREVIEW
Thingamajig Theatre Company has presented a slew of great Broadway-quality musicals over the past eight years, but none of them have been as darkly funny as the deviously delicious rock musical “Little Shop of Horrors.” Nor has Thingamajig ever staged a play where the central character was a plant-shaped puppet.
A foul-mouthed puppet that stands over six feet tall, and sings and dances.
A blood-thirsty puppet with designs to conquer Planet Earth.
The show — variously described as a “deviously delicious Broadway and Hollywood sci-fi smash musical” that has “devoured the hearts of theater goers for over 30 years” — opens at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts (PSCA) this Friday and Saturday, July 13 and 14, as part of a five-show “Broadway in the Mountains” summer repertory season that runs through Aug. 31.
“Little Shop of Horrors” is set in the 1960s in a dreary and depressed part of downtown known as “Skid Row,” where a trio of three Motown-style girl singers (Katie Whittemore, Shuga Henry and Marion Bienvenu) keep a watchful eye on the local residents while keeping the musical hits coming.
In one corner of this seedy neighborhood sits Mushnik’s Flower Shop, where Mr. Mushnik (Carl Morrow) is on the verge of closing its doors for lack of business. But Mushnik’s meek assistant, Seymour Krelborn (Kevin Stevens), has stumbled across a new strange breed of plant that he names “Audrey II” — named after his flower shop co-worker Audrey (Hannah Zilber) on whom he secretly holds a crush.
Krelborn soon discovers that the plant thrives … and grows … and grows … when fed on a diet of human blood. He also discovers that his co-worker is being abused by her current boyfriend, a demented dentist named Orin Scrivello (Nick Drivas).
The rapidly growing plant has meanwhile learned to sing and dance, and now claims to have the power to grant Krelborn’s deepest wishes, including a romantic relationship with his crush Audrey, and a full partnership in the flower shop … if only Krelborn can provide a daily dose of fresh blood.
The dancing, rocking puppet is a team effort by puppeteers Ahia Kaeser, Jazlynne Willams and Nicolis Hall and vocalist Tyler Price.
Thingamajig selected Pagosa-based director Ali Whitman to helm the production, working alongside choreographer Pia Wyatt and musical director Boni McIntyre.
Whitman talked about the production between rehearsals last week.
“When I was first asked to direct “Little Shop of Horrors,” I didn’t have to think twice about the opportunity because it has always been one of my all-time favorite shows. I am a big fan of stories that brilliantly blend innocent charm with a wicked sense of humor in a way that’s entertaining, yet true to the human condition. It’s an ageless story of human nature, unrequited love and a desire to be more than what we are. Stories don’t get any better than that.
“I’ve been thrilled to be able to work with my brilliant and incredibly talented cast. Our puppeteers have been more than willing to throw themselves into the life-sized puppets, bend their bodies in precarious positions for long periods of time, and come out sweaty and still smiling. Our puppeteers have truly made this show come to life with their ability to translate the attitude of the plant with nothing more than a tilt of the head or bend of a branch. It’s remarkable to see.
“This is definitely a must-see show for our Pagosa audiences. Theater-goers will be over the moon with this incredibly entertaining production, its ‘larger-than-a-sports-car’ puppet, and a message that is just as big and bold as the plant itself.”
“Little Shop of Horrors” opens this weekend as part of Thingamajig Theater Company’s professional summer season. The other musicals playing through the summer include “Legally Blonde,” “West Side Story” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” plus a special teen production, “Pinkalicious.”
You can learn more and purchase tickets by calling the theater box office at 731-7469 or by visiting https://pagosacenter.org.
Thingamajig Theatre Company is a professional nonprofit 501(c)(3) theater company housed at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts — producing musicals, comedies and dramas year-round. Thingamajig also hosts theater camps for children and provides free tickets to local nonprofit organizations for fundraisers.

This story was posted on July 13, 2018.