The Gwangju Performance Project is set to put on Howard Ashman's “Little Shop of Horrors” this weekend.
The show is the GPP’s most ambitious project yet, bringing together a live band and the GPP’s choreography group into its 50-strong cast and crew. But things almost fell through when they found themselves without a venue.
“Our original theater fell through due to an electrical fire, so we didn't have a theater, but we got lucky,” said director Anissa Ghali, who added they managed to find a theater to stage the show just two weeks after they had originally scheduled it -- though all four shows will now be on the same weekend.
Poster for “Little Shop of Horrors” (GPP)
Little Shop of Horrors is a horror comedy rock musical about a hapless worker at a florist. A shy timid man, his fortunes turn around when he starts to raise an unusual-looking plant. But its appearance isn’t all that’s odd -- it feeds on human blood and things get out of hand as the plant gets hungrier.
“Seymore is very naive and socially awkward and our actor is already a bit like that. She is very young and shy at first, so it was more about trying to pull those things out and making it more masculine,” said director Anissa Ghali.
Madeline Miller, who plays Seymore, said she sometimes got teased for being too masculine, so playing a male role was not too difficult for the most part, but she found the romantic side of things trickier.
“When I’m supposed to be angry: Got it. When I am supposed to be super awkward nerdy: Got it. Just the love stuff is so far from my norm,” she said.
“(Seymore) has always wanted this forever and he knows what he wants but he doesn’t know how to get there. I’m totally the opposite when it comes to that. ... I’m very go-getter and very blunt and forward and verbally expressive even if not emotionally expressive. So it’s just totally backwards from the way that I would do things.”
But while they may behave differently, that doesn’t mean Miller is always perfectly comfortable with romance.
“I‘m discovering a lot about myself, like where do I actually feel awkward in my life,” she said. “Some of those moments when Seymore feels awkward, that’s where I feel awkward too. I didn’t really realize how uncomfortable I was with love and romance stuff before this play”
Madeline Miller plays Seymore and Kristyna Zaharek plays Orin in Gwangju Performance Project’s “Little Shop of Horrors” (Ben Robins)
Both Miller and Ghali mentioned there was more to Seymore’s love interest Audrey than the cartoonish image in which she can sometimes be portrayed.
“She can easily be played very two-dimensional as a bimbo, but I feel like she has a lot of inner turmoil and emotions and experiences,” said Ghali. “That’s something that I try to work with the actor on is to show a more dynamic side of Audrey and giving her more emotions and seeing more of her background.”
The musical is based on the low-budget 1960 black comedy film of the same name, with music, in the style of early 1960s rock ’n’ roll, doo-wop and early Motown.
Ghali said she had added some ‘80s elements to the set and costume, but did not want to disturb the 1960s theme, such as with the trio of singers who appear throughout the musical.
“They are like a Greek chorus in a way -- they see everything and talk about everything -- but they have that kind of doo-wop ’60s feel to them,” explained Ghali.
As well as choreographers and singers, the GPP also brought in children from its summer drama workshops, who auditioned to play street urchins to link the scenes together.
“The children are doing different fun stuff like pretending to spray paint the shop or play games to help the show move more smoothly. And also to add a little fun to the show,” said Ghali.
The performances will be held at GFN’s theater on Saturday at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Ticket prices are 12,000 won for matinee performances and 15,000 won for evening performances, with discounts for children, groups and reservations.
Visit www.gwangjutheatre.com for details on how to book.
By Paul Kerry (firstname.lastname@example.org