‘Little Shop of Horrors’ to devour weekend

Man-eating plant Audrey II takes the stage in "Little Shop of Horrors."

Audrey II is a demanding carnivorous plant, and Seymour is weary of hearing, "Feed me, Seymour!" in the play, "Little Shop of Horrors."
Photo by Tyrone Randall

Bartlett High presents dark musical comedy

A giant man-eating flower, lively music and a cast of eight will keep the audience planted in their seats this week at the Bartlett High School Auditorium.

The Panther Playhouse performances will be at 7 p.m. April 3-5 for “Little Shop of Horrors,” a dark musical comedy. Tickets are $10.

The play stars a nerdy florist who finds success and romance with help from Audrey II, a carnivorous and talkative plant who demands to be fed.

Audrey II will be acted by a set of four increasingly large puppets. The first two are hand puppets. For the third, someone sits inside the plant. For the fourth and largest version, someone stands behind the plant to manipulate it. The school’s Panther Playhouse rented the puppets and got permission to remake them, improving function and looks.

Bartlett drama teacher Kevin Rogers said the play is a complex balance of puppetry, singing, dancing and acting, and it took time for students to learn all the components and put them together into a cohesive show.

“When I first decided to do it, I didn’t know how complex it was,” he said. “It was certainly an interesting discovery.”

He’s also confident that all the behind-the-scenes work and the acting practices have paid off. “I think it’s one of the best things we’ve ever done.”

Rogers teaches theater, production, and advanced acting/forensics, and he was nominated last year for the Tennessee High School Speech and Drama League’s Krider Theatre Educator of the Year Award. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Tennessee High School Speech and Drama League.

He emphasized that his students have worked hard to make “Little Shop of Horrors” a success in Bartlett. “It’s continuing the success that we had with last year’s full-length musical. The artistic elements alone really make it worth seeing.”

Theater-goers may be familiar with the 1986 or 1960 movie versions, but they don’t quite match the live play, Rogers said.

He advises potential viewers, “If they’re wanting to see good theater, they don’t really need to go anywhere else.”

For more information, see the Panther Playhouse’s Facebook page or their Twitter page.

Written by Carolyn Bahm, editor for The Bartlett Express. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or carolyn.bahm@journalinc.com.