Comic-style adaptation makes “Little Shop of Horrors” ideal for all audiences

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Director Jeremy Showgren has brought a more family-friendly version of the rock and roll-era horror musical “Little Shop of Horrors” to Orem’s indoor SCERA stage.

The story’s original integrity remains highly intact, with enough slight changes in language and violence levels to make audiences of all ages more able to enjoy the performance.

“I haven’t really changed much,” Showgren said in an email. “It’s just more family-friendly in the presentation. Everything is so bright, colorful, and exaggerated that the parts in the script that could normally be played as scary, gory, or violent are just fun and campy.”

Showgren, who has been professionally directing shows for about a decade, hopes his small changes to the script also make the story more appropriate for students and dates.

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The stage version of “Little Shop of Horrors” was originally based on the 1960 film of the same name. With Showgren’s vision, SCERA’s production reflects 1950s and 1960s culture as he stylized the entire performance to look like scenes from a vintage horror comic.

“The whole set looks like it was ripped right off a page in a comic book, especially the shop,” Showgren said in an email. “The designers all did their research on period comics, and it shows.”

All elements of the show reflect this comic book theme, including costumes, bright colors, lights, and advertising posters.

According to Showgren, his inspiration for editing came from when he was asked to direct the play.

“I love this show, but it’s not typical SCERA fare,” Showgren said in an email. “I had to figure out a way to make it family-friendly, so I was thinking back to the bare bones of the script, it reminded me of the old EC Comics.”

Entertaining Comics (EC Comics) was a publishing company in the 1940s and 50s known for their horror and science fiction¬†comics. Many of EC Comics’ stories focused on gruesome plot twists aimed at delivering poetic justice to characters who had wronged others, according to Wikipedia.

Showgren believes in such justice, and tried to keep the principle alive throughout his production.

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“I’ve toned down the violence a bit, but I’ve still tried to make it clear that any character who makes bad choices has to face the consequences,” Showgren said.

According to a News release, the cast will feature a mixture of SCERA veterans along with actors new to the SCERA stage. Showgren explained how he was highly impressed with the cast and how he has enjoyed working with them throughout “Little Shop of Horrors”.

“I love casts that let me push them out of their comfort zones, and this has definitely been one,” he said. “The cast was completely on board with the concept from the beginning, and that’s a great asset to a show.”

Cast members also had positive things to say about preparation for the show. Michael Shepherd, a BYU senior from American Fork studying Political Science, plays the abusive dentist Orin Scrivello.

“I loved playing a character that I could really sink my teeth into,” Shepherd said. “This is a great cast, and everyone is very talented.”

Twelve people make up the cast of “Little Shop of Horrors”, including Kyle Harper, who is the voice of Audrey II, the story’s flesh-eating antagonist. Harper, a BYU senior from Orem studying Music Education, said his favorite part of being in the show was working with his wife Shani, who plays Chiffon in the story’s narrating trio.

Mollie Burdett, a BYU junior studying Humanities, plays Crystal, another character in the trio. Burdett, who hails from St. Louis, looks forward to putting on a show that is just scary enough for families.

“I am excited to see how little kids react to the show,” Burdett said. “The show is kind of scary, but I hope they can laugh and not just be scared. It has a good mix of funny and scary, and I really like that.”

“Little Shop of Horrors” serves as SCERA’s indoor season premiere show, and will play September 14-October 6 on Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children, seniors, and students (with ID) and can be purchased by calling (801) 225-ARTS, at www.scera.org, at SCERA’s box office at 745 South State in Orem, or at the door.

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