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Actors Bring Humanity to Horror-Comedy

Audrey II (2) (1) copy2

Photo credit: Provided by- Susan Domer

Audrey II (2) (1) copy2
Written by: Colby ShoupApril 06, 2017

In a musical about a man-eating plant from outer space, it helps to ground the characters in reality, said Megan Buss, sophomore theater major.

“My thought process behind all of it is to make my character’s reactions as real as possible because it’s funny if it feels like this is my real mindset,” Buss said. “Audrey doesn’t really talk about the terribleness of her situation. She just plays it off, she’s very naive.”

Buss plays one of two leads in IPFW Department of Theatre’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” which runs at 8 p.m. April 20-29 in Williams Theatre.

The show tells the story of Seymour Krelborn, a nebbish geek working in a failing flower shop who raises a flesh-eating plant. Seymour, played by senior theater major Ethan Lichtle, is in love with his co-worker Audrey, but he is always too shy to make a move.

“Seymour is a very timid soul,” Lichtle said. “He’s kind of nerdy and dorky, but he’s always trying to do the best he can for whoever he wants to please — and that’s usually Audrey. He always has the best intentions, even when he’s murdering people and feeding them to the plant.”

Lichtle and Buss first became friends doing a production of “Six Characters in Search of An Author” last year. Being close with each other helped them create a more intimate and realistic relationship between Seymour and Audrey. This connection makes the show’s off-kilter premise more believable, Buss said.

“There’s a lot of trust involved in playing these two parts,” Buss said. “Being emotionally vulnerable with someone can be very scary, and having a person that you’re comfortable with can help with the intimate moments.”

Another relationship in the show is between Seymour and Audrey II, the man-eating plant played by puppeteer Cameron Tolliver and voiced by Terel Lynn.

When Seymour first starts taking care of the plant, it’s small and on the verge of death. After he starts feeding it blood, it eventually grows to be the size of a room and gains the ability to speak. Seymour is horrified by the plant’s thirst for blood, but he also forms a powerful emotional bond with it.

Lichtle said it was important to him that Seymour and Audrey II’s relationship felt believable, even if his costar was a puppet.

“I worked on interacting with Audrey II in rehearsals a lot,” Lichtle said. “There was one rehearsal where (Lynn) and I improvised dialogue as our characters back and forth, and that really helped establish our relationship for me. We decided that Seymour is kind of the mother and Audrey II is the temperamental toddler.”

Admission to “Little Shop of Horrors” is $5 for IPFW students, $16 for seniors and faculty members, and $18 for adults.