The hilarious and slightly frightening cult-classic called the Little Shop of Horrors is being performed live at the Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center from Friday, February 7th to Saturday, February 22nd.
In this campy musical based on the 1960s horror film, nerdy Seymour, a florist's clerk, buys and feeds a Venus fly trap-like plant, which he names after his co-worker crush, Audrey. The plant ultimately grows big enough to devour everything in its path. This Broadway hit is full of side-splitting humor that will leave you laughing gleefully. You will also be in awe of the puppetry Director James Cooper is bringing to this production.
Broadway has seen its share of puppetry with shows like Little Shop and Avenue Q.
Puppetry is a form of theatre or performance that involves the manipulation of an inanimate object. They often resemble some type of human or animal figure. Let’s face it- puppetry is hard. Making puppets is hard. Performing with them is hard. And, often, that challenge keeps people from bringing the art form to the stage. However, Cooper, a master puppeteer, is out to change that. He is set to bring puppetry back to relevance in the Hampton Roads. In a recent interview, he spoke with us about the importance of reigniting the excitement around puppetry, the importance of the show, and supporting the arts.
THE ANTONYM: Why Little Shop of Horrors?
COOPER: Little Shop is one of my favorite shows. As a puppeteer, I did the show when I was in high school. I wanted to share my experience with this cast. I want to highlight puppetry and introduce and re-introduce people to the art form. Which can be [and still is] used for teaching. It’s a dying art.
THE ANTONYM: Why at Downing-Gross? You’re so well known on the Southside. Why the Peninsula?
COOPER: I want to bring something new to Downing-Gross. I want to bring a different dynamic in theatre to the Peninsula. I want to be a catalyst for change and be a part of bridging that gap between the Southside & Peninsula.
THE ANTONYM: What would you tell theatre-goers to get them to come out and see Little Shop?
COOPER: Come see it because I said so. But seriously, get out and come support the arts. We are at a point in the Hampton Roads arts community where we need each other. Live theatre is so important. That connection is so important. Also, come get some more education on puppets. Without performers, you have no entertainment. Come see the spectacle that is Little Shop of Horrors. This is the biggest set ever at Downing-Gross. I’m proud and surprised.
THE ANTONYM: Talk to me about Seymour. Cory Steiger is playing him and his performances are always so dynamic.
COOPER: Cory went to CNU, and I am blessed to have him in this show. When he walked in the door I knew he was my Seymour. He opened his mouth and I knew he was show ready! The cast as whole has been rehearsing since September. I want to make sure everyone is having fun and comfortable as they work. The show has really come together. Feels great going into tech week.
THE ANTONYM: Lastly, any parting words? What else do you want people to know about this show and Downing-Gross?
COOPER: Downing-Gross is branching out. Little Shop opens Downing-Gross up to a new audience. You’ve never seen a show or a Little Shop like this in Newport News. Downing Gross isn’t just a Cultural Arts Center or Community Center. There is a 271 seat theatre in this amazing building, right in the heart of downtown Newport News. Many people didn’t even know there was a theatre in the building. I’m here to change that.
This Broadway hit is full of side-splitting humor and puppetry that will leave you laughing gleefully, shrieking in fear, and singing along. Parents exercise caution in bringing the kids. Make sure to check their Facebook Page because there is a chance to win 20% off of General Admission Tickets to see The Little Shop of Horrors! Send Downing-Gross a Facebook message containing the correct answer to their trivia question by 12:00 pm on Friday, February 7th and Downing-Gross will respond with a 20% off promotional code that is valid for online purchases made before Sunday, February 9th at 11:45 pm.
Make sure to catch Little Shop of Horrors LIVE at the Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center from Friday, February 7th to Saturday, February 22nd. Showtimes are Fridays @ 7pm & Saturday @ 1pm & 7pm.
Words by Rico Robinson. Photos courtesy of Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center.