Praise for Sean Cawelti’s Puppets in the Pasadena Playhouse Production of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS

‘Little Shop of Horrors’ in Pasadena: Secrets of a radically reconceived Audrey II

“Strange.” “Weird.” “Exotic little beauty.” “Like something from another world.”

These are ways in which the plant of “Little Shop of Horrors” is initially described by its characters. They’re perplexed by its presence, its mysterious origins, its unidentifiable genus. But the botanical fascination is so enticing that it boosts the business of a skid row flower shop — and convinces its caretaker to commit a bit of murder in exchange for fame and fortune.

Countless stagings of the Howard Ashman-Alan Menken musical have remained visually devout to the sprout that debuted off-off-Broadway in 1982. Based on the 1960 Roger Corman cult classic and popularized by Frank Oz’s 1986 musical film, the Faustian fable has been mounted again and again with a green, podlike growth resembling a Venus flytrap and a bountiful head of lettuce.

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The 1986 film starred Rick Moranis opposite a pod-like creature, often re-created onstage.
(Warner Bros. / Shutterstock)

“The classic look can be nostalgic but also predictable,” said Mike Donahue, who directed the Pasadena Playhouse production set to close Sunday. “All of the language that’s in the piece is about how the plant stands out, how it catches people’s eyes immediately when people are walking by. There’s gotta be something about it that, in this drab and depressed and bleak world, just pops.” Advertisement

The Playhouse questioned those optical expectations and answered with a radical redesign of the plant, Audrey II, nicknamed Twoey. Housed in a large tomato can, its flower is a fantastic fuchsia hue, the five appendage-like tendrils glistening and sparkling. When closed, a bud of polka dot petals resembles a head with lips. It opens into a lily with a playful yellow tongue. This Twoey is indeed a new sight for those onstage and in the audience, and now that the run is ending, her secrets are being revealed in new photos presented exclusively here.

“I wanted to make something that seems alien and extraterrestrial but also that gives an emotional reaction — you can’t help but smile,” said Sean Cawelti, who led the show’s puppet design, direction and choreography. “And when the plant opens its petals for the first time and reveals what’s inside, it’s not inherently scary but surprisingly whimsical and magical.”

Twoey (also known as Audrey II), the carnivorous plant in “Little Shop of Horrors.”
With a new look and strategic puppetry, Twoey comes off as friendly and adorable to Seymour and the audience.
(Courtesy of Pasadena Playhouse)

Fear is the furthest thing from anyone’s mind during the song “Grow for Me.” A first version of Twoey — which “faints” via remote control — is swiftly swapped for a rod puppet plant with hard-to-spot cables controlled by three puppeteers under a metal table.

Read the full review by Ashley Lee from the LA Times here.

Peter Mills and Cara Reichel’s THE HELLO GIRLS Live Cast Album Now Available!

Broadway Records released an original off-Broadway cast recording of The Hello Girls currently available for preorder at BroadwayRecords.com and Amazon.com.

From New York to Paris, from ragtime to jazz — an ensemble of actor-musicians chronicles the story of America’s first women soldiers, The Hello Girls. These intrepid heroines served as bilingual telephone operators on the front lines, helping turn the tide of World War I. They then returned home to fight a decades-long battle for equality and recognition, paving the way for future generations.

Nominated for three Drama Desk Awards and four Outer Critics Circle Awards, The Hello Girls has music and lyrics by Peter Mills, and a book by Mills and Cara Reichel, with direction by Cara Reichel, choreography by Christine O’Grady, and music direction by Ben Moss. Orchestrations are by Peter Mills and Ben Moss, with additional drum arrangements by Elena Bonomo. Produced by Prospect Theater Company, the musical ran from November 13-December 22, 2018 at 59E59 Theaters.

The cast featured Ellie Fishman (Finding Neverland), Arlo Hill (The Most Happy Fella at Encores!), Chanel Karimkhani (The Goree All Girl String Bandat New York Musical Festival), Andrew Mayer (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812), Matthew McGloin (CasablancaBox at HERE Arts), Ben Moss (Spring Awakening), Lili Thomas (Disney Millennium Symphonies with the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall), Skyler Volpe (West Side Story at Barrington Stage), Cathryn Wake (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812), and Scott Wakefield (Hands on a Hardbody). Elena Bonomo (Waitress) was the percussionist.

Learn more from Broadway World here.

Bobby Frederick Tilley Wins Best Costume Design for BE MORE CHILL from the 2019 Theatre Fans Choice Awards

BroadwayWorld is pleased to announce the winners for the 17th annual Theater Fans’ Choice Awards, by FAR, the largest fan based awards of their kind. Open to anyone to vote, the awards present a full slate of eligible nominees in categories that both mirror the popular critical awards, as well as fan favorite categories for Best Tour, Ensemble and Off Broadway shows.

A record number of fans participated in voting for this year’s awards, doubling the number of votes from last year alone.

BE MORE CHILL leads with a total of 10 wins, followed by HADESTOWN which took home 5 awards. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD also takes home 5 awards.

Best Costume Design

Bobby Frederick Tilley II – Be More Chill

Learn more about the winners of the 17th Annual Theatre Fans Choice Awards here.

THE HELLO GIRLS Nominated for 4 Outer Critics Circle Awards this Season !

Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical
The Beast in the Jungle
Black Light
Girl from the North Country
The Hello Girls
Midnight at the Never Get

Outstanding Book Of A Musical (Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Robert Horn, Tootsie
Conor McPherson, Girl from the North Country
Peter Mills and Cara Reichel, The Hello Girls
Anaïs Mitchell, Hadestown
Jeff Whitty and James Magruder, Head Over Heels

Outstanding New Score (Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, The Prom
Joe Iconis, Be More Chill
Peter Mills, The Hello Girls
Anaïs Mitchell, Hadestown
David Yazbek, Tootsie

Outstanding Director Of A Musical
Rachel Chavkin, Hadestown
Scott Ellis, Tootsie
Daniel Fish, Oklahoma!
Joel Grey, Fiddler on the Roof (in Yiddish)
Cara Reichel, The Hello Girls

Read the full list from Playbill.com here.