Cast rehearses for “Little Shop”

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September 4, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Richard Peters will take the stage for the first time ever next week as a puppeteer.
Er, scratch that.
“Actually, it’ll be my second time,” Peters joked. “My first, and last.”
Peters and co-star Hazel Ebberts will man the puppetry for the Iola Community Theatre production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”
The production, based on the Broadway musical and movie of the same name, runs at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12 and 13, and at 2 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center. (Tickets are available at Sophisticated Rose.)
“Little Shop of Horrors” follows the story of Seymour, a mild-mannered floral assistant, who stumbles across a new breed of plant. He names the plant “Audrey II,” after his coworker and crush.
The plant promises fame and fortune to Seymour as long as he keeps it fed — with blood.
“Little Shop of Horrors” stars Bryan Johnson and Susie McKinnis as Seymour and Audrey, with Sabra Aguirre, Pam Tressler, Valerie Winslow, Andrew Oatman and Trent Chriestenson in supporting roles.
But it’s the teamwork of Ebberts, Peters and co-star Dan Johnson who make the show click.
Ebberts will handle the puppetry for Audrey II when it’s still a relatively diminutive sapling. Peters takes the helm as the plant grows significantly by the next scene. Then they’ll both work in sync as the plant becomes large enough to “consume” its victims in a single bite.
Meanwhile, Dan Johnson will provide Audrey II’s voice.
“The hard part is staying motionless,” Ebberts said. “We have to stay completely still until Dan speaks.”
Likewise, Johnson notes he must remain completely quiet when it’s not his turn to speak.
“Otherwise, it’ll look like the plant is a ventriloquist,” he joked.
The large plant was rented from A to Z Theatrical, out of Kansas City, noted Director Richard Spencer.
“Creating a costume like that is a little beyond our skill set, and buying one would have cost up to $4,000,” he said. “We’ve worked with A to Z several times before.”
Jan Knewtson serves as the musical director, Trilby Bannister the choreographer and Elyssa Jackson as assistant director and stage manager.

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