Director George Nelson hopes audiences resonate with the cautionary messages of the horror comedy
Campus and community audiences will enter the weird and wacky world of Seymour Krelborn and his man-eating plant from outer space when “Little Shop of Horrors” opens on March 6.
“I grew up watching ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ and have always loved the musical for its zany plotline and lovable characters,” said Jaymie Inouye, who plays Audrey. “It really is a wonderful story, and we are leaning into the human moments rather than playing just for laughs.”
The horror comedy rock musical by songwriting duo Howard Ashman and Alan Menken — of “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast” fame — is based on a 1960 film by the same name and was released as a now-beloved movie musical in 1986. While its quirky, dark humor and macabre premise have solidified the show’s status as a cult favorite, audiences have also long been drawn to the surprisingly poignant messages in Seymour’s love for Audrey and his efforts to secure a better life for the two of them.
“It’s a modern-day Greek tragedy in many ways,” said director George Nelson. “It’s a very tender story about people who have nothing and want something, but when it appears before them, they’re seduced and end up losing what they had. If we look at this as a cautionary tale or a parable, we can see how Satan will bind us in — that’s exactly what the plant does to Seymour. It’s that flaxen cord we read about in the scriptures.”
Nelson hopes that audiences resonate with these cautionary messages and are able to identify struggles and vices in their own lives, symbolically represented in Seymour’s story by a plant bent on world-domination.
“I want audiences to see the heart of it,” said Nelson. “I’m moved to tears in many places in the play because of people I know who have been caught in situations like this; they want so desperately to have what they don’t have that when something comes along that proves too good to be true, they don’t see the reality of it until it’s too late. But we also want to send a message of hope. We know salvation is offered. As they sing in the show, ‘we’ll have tomorrow.’”
The BYU production is also the fulfillment of a personal dream for Inouye.
“Audrey was a role I thought would be so much fun to play, but a part that I recognized was probably out of my reach — I look nothing like the blonde-haired, blue-eyed look that is copied in most productions,” said Inouye. “I auditioned with trepidation, because I was fully prepared to not be considered. I am so grateful that George Nelson was able to look past the conventional ‘Audrey’ look and cast an Asian girl who has always had the role in her sights.”
Like Nelson, Inouye hopes that audiences are open to the broader themes of the play, particularly the lessons of self-acceptance and sacrifice that she sees in Audrey’s character arc.
“I hope that audiences have a good time and lose themselves in our production, but I also hope that they take the message of the show with them after they leave,” she said. “Our show tries to tell the audience about the importance of loving yourself for who you are and recognizing that the way you feel about yourself and the love that you have to give is more important than your worldly possessions.”
Tickets and Show Details
Performance Dates and Times: March 6-7, 11-14, 18-21 | 7:30 p.m. and March 7, 14, 21 | 2 p.m.
Location: Pardoe Theatre
Tickets: Available in person at the BYU HFAC or Marriott Center Ticket Office, by phone at (801) 422-2981 or online at byuarts.com