Anyone who has seen "Little Shop of Horrors" knows that Orin Scrivello, DDS, is the worst dentist in musical theater history. But an upcoming production of the popular musical hopes to help the smiles of some disadvantaged youth in need of dental services.
Wasatch Theatre Company is sponsoring a benefit performance of the comedy/horror rock musical for the Salt Lake Education Foundation. Proceeds from the show, which opens Thursday, April 12, at the Wagner Center, will go toward disadvantaged youth in need of dental services.
Performers in the production are donating their time and effort, and two talented Trevors with Top of Utah ties are involved in the benefit.
Layton native and Utah State University alum Trevor Jerome is playing keyboards and conducting the four-member band for the show. Jerome just finished a run as the stage manager for "The Drowsy Chaperone" at CenterPoint Legacy Theatre in Centerville.
While Jerome conducts the band, Weber State University student Trevor Dean will be making some moves of his own as he operates Audrey II, the hungry villain of the piece. Dean recently appeared as Mr. Mister in WSU's production of "The Cradle Will Rock."
"Little Shop of Horrors" is a cautionary tale about the dangers of fame, fortune and dating a sadistic dentist, among other things. The musical is about a strange and unusual little plant that turns up during a total eclipse of the sun, and why feeding said plant is a really bad idea. The stage musical was based on a low-budget 1960 Roger Corman cult film that featured a young Jack Nicholson in a supporting role as a rather twisted dental patient.
Jerome said the upbeat, '60s-style music nicely balances the darker overtones of the story.
"It's really fun for me and the band to play," Jerome said. "I really enjoy getting to play the different styles. The music is catchy and memorable and something that many people are familiar with."
The 1982 musical was written by composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman. It was later turned into a feature film directed by Frank Oz and starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene and Steve Martin. The score includes the raucous "Skid Row," the rousing "Suddenly, Seymour" and the reflective "Somewhere That's Green."
The long-running Broadway musical chronicles the story of Seymour Krelborn, an orphaned nerd who lives in a flower shop owned by the abusive Mr. Mushnick. The flower business is not doing well when Seymour happens upon the plant, which he names Audrey II after his secret love interest -- the beautiful, but not-too-bright, Audrey, who helps run the flower shop.
This is Dean's third time to suit up for the part of Audrey II, which is actually brought to life by two performers -- one who sings the part and the other who operates the ravenous puppet. Dean, who has been involved in puppetry since he was 6 years old, last played the part 10 years ago.
"Playing the plant is difficult, specifically because I have to operate a plant, bring it to life and make it believable, as well as listen to the person with the voice, paying specific detail to the inflections, and sighs, down to a scoff," Dean said in a email interview. "It's a really fun challenge and I am always kept on my toes and have to go with the impulse and predict what I think might be said, or done, by the voice."
That "voice" will give those familiar with the show a cool little twist, Jerome said, as the part will be performed by Marcie Jacobsen, of Provo. The role is usually sung by a male performer.
The production will be presented in the Wagner Center's Black Box Theatre, which Jerome said is the perfect setting and atmosphere for this smaller-scale musical. The show features a full set and colorful '60s-style costumes.
Salt Lake City-area actress Ally Sweeny, who has previously played Audrey in a Desert Star Playhouse production, will reprise that role, and Seymour will be played by Jim Martin, of Salt Lake City, artistic director of Wasatch Theatre Company. The show is directed by Sallie Cooper, who previously worked at Utah State University as assistant director of student activities.
Jerome said he is thrilled with the level of talent in the cast and production team, which was why he was so willing to jump from "The Drowsy Chaperone" right into "Little Shop of Horrors."
"The actors are all great, they are really just so amazingly talented," he said.