The Hippo


May 24, 2020








Little Shop of Horrors 

Where: Janice B. Streeter Theatre, 14 Court St., Nashua 
When: Oct. 13 through Oct. 22. Showtimes are Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 7 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. 
Cost: General admission tickets are $15 to $19, tickets for students and seniors 62+ are $12 to $17. 
More info:, 886-7000

Killer plant ahead
Peacock Players take on Little Shop of Horrors

By Angie Sykeny

 Doo-wop numbers and a 6-foot-tall puppet bring a campy cult classic to life in the Peacock Players youth theater’s production of Little Shop of Horrors, opening Friday, Oct. 13, at the Janice B. Streeter Theatre in Nashua. 

The horror-comedy rock musical tells the story of a hapless orphan named Seymour who, while working at a run-down floral shop on Skid Row, pricks his finger on a mysterious venus flytrap-like plant and awakens its taste for blood. As the plant grows in size, it becomes a public attraction and boosts business at the floral shop, but to keep the plant alive, Seymour must supply it with human bodies to eat. 
“It has some Shakespearean tones,” artistic director Keith Weirich said. “In a weird way, it’s an allegory about greed and fame. The allegory itself is not that clever, but it’s done in a clever way.” 
Little Shop of Horrors is based on a 1960 B movie and premiered off-Broadway in 1982. The score, inspired by the stylings of early rock ’n’ roll and doo-wop, is “flawless, timeless and really accessible to a modern audience,” Weirich said, and is a big part of what attracted him to the musical in the first place. 
Weirich directed a previous Peacock Players’ Little Shop production 10 years ago, but said this year’s production will be a step up from the last with a more contemporary design and instrumentation, and atmospheric equipment that is more high-tech yet maintains that low-budget, campy feel. 
“I think we’re looking to outdo ourselves and are forcing ourselves to think outside the box,” he said. “We’re really trying to energize it with a new modern sensibility. It’s fun to reinvent things that we did before and abandon certain things and approach other things differently.”  
The quirkiest element of the production, Weirich said, is the series of puppets used to play the plant in its various stages of growth. The largest puppet requires several puppeteers, who are hidden amid pieces of the strategically constructed set. Actor Noah Payeur, 16, who is voicing the plant, will remain offstage with a microphone and sync his voice with the puppets’ movements by watching a live video stream of the musical as it’s played out. 
“It’s very different, but very fun to do,” said Payeur, who also voiced the plant in a previous production of Little Shop put on by Steps NH in Londonderry. “I love being able to look at the stage from a different perspective. I can see it from the audience’s view, but also from my view where I’m acting it out and controlling it.” 
To prepare, Payeur spent time listening to the soundtracks from various renditions of the musical for inspiration about what kind of voice he wanted to give the plant. Although he remains offstage, he decided to memorize the lines rather than read from a script so that he can speak them naturally and without missing a beat.
“Getting the timing down is a very big part of it and something that me and the puppeteer have to focus on,” Payeur said. “It takes a lot of repetition and a lot of us meeting after [rehearsals] to go over it.” 
“It’s certainly a big undertaking to execute it well and make [the puppets] seem living and organic and as realistic and believable as possible,” Weirich added. “People will really think that this thing is talking and dancing, and they won’t know that there are three or four people operating it.” 
Weirich said the set will be “full of surprises” with moveable pieces that shift and transform to create different scenes. The theater itself will be an interactive part of the set in which audience members will pass through Skid Row, complete with trash cans and other props, to get to their seats. 
“It’s pretty transformative and escapist,” he said. “It really takes you out of the beautiful, picturesque fall in New Hampshire and takes you deep into this city where this sci-fi cult classic comes alive right in front of you.” 

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