Arts and Entertainment

WWCA features jive-talking plant in 'Little Shop of Horrors'

While the Broadway production, and much of the cult film’s popularity, didn’t come until the mid 1980s, “The Little Shop of Horrors” was first unveiled at the dawn of the 1960s.

And it just so happens that on the same weekend that downtown Port Orchard will be turning back the clock for the classic car show The Cruz, the town playhouse — Western Washington Center for the Arts — is resurrecting the low-budget Roger Corman film as the main stage musical, premiering Aug. 8, adding to the weekend’s classic events.

The story, an quirky retelling of Faust, is probably best known for it’s jive-talking, r&b-singing, man-eating plant “Audrey Jr.,” but it’s also notable for unleashing a freaky little actor named Jack Nicholson onto the American movie scene.

It was heralded as the “funniest picture of the year” in 1960, combining the quintessential “black comedy” with Jewish humor and farcical mind-controlling plant that speaks with an urban dialect and feeds on human flesh. But evidently, the film didn’t seem all that attractive to begin with. Corman didn’t even copyright it. Evidently he didn’t think the film had much of a financial future.

Reportedly filmed in a couple of days on a budget of less than $30,000, it was screened out of competition at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival but gained its popularity through word of mouth, distributed as a B-movie in a few period double features.

It would go on to became a cult classic. Numerous copies in varying degrees of quality were released, given that the film was public domain.

Then, 20 years later, the story would be rekindled and slightly altered for the stage, when it premiered as an off-Broadway Motown rock musical in 1982. That staging inspired the mainstream movie four years later, starring Steve Martin and Rick Moranis, all of which led to the “Little Shop of Horrors” becoming the American classic that it is today.

It’s the story of a nerdy guy named Seymour Krelborn living in urban skid row, working at a local flower shop. One day he comes across an intriguingly mysterious Venus-fly-trap-like plant that turns out to be a vocally inclined, flesh-and-blood-craving monster. But the plant is Seymour’s friend and also good for business so they keep it in the back of the shop, feeding it cadavers.

All along, you know it’s only a matter of time before this hilariously vicious flora bites the hand that feeds. Or breaks out into song.

GRAY BOX / ITALIX

Western Washington Center for the Arts welcomes you to the funniest flower shop in town with the premier of its summer production “Little Shop of Horrors” at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 8 at 521 Bay St. in Port Orchard. The show runs through Aug. 25 and is rated PG-10 for some language and few “scary giant plant scenes.” Opening night will be preceded by the theater’s now-famous wine-and-cheese chat with the director at 6:30 p.m. Info: www.wwca.us or call the theater at (360) 769-7469.

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