Little Shop of Horrors Actor Blooms Where He's Planted
Editor's Note: Kevin Moore sat down to discuss his role in Little Shop of Horrors. What follows is his account as told to Elaine Liner.
Back in March, WaterTower Theatre in Addison announced auditions for the musical comedy Little Shop of Horrors. There was a role for the manipulator of Audrey II, the giant carnivorous plant whose parts usually are moved from the inside by a technician or stagehand.
I had never seen this role listed in an audition notice, so I thought, why not, and decided to go for it. I spent around 15 minutes in an interview with director Amy Anders-Corcoran, who, in addition to being arguably the most energetic director in Dallas, tried valiantly to talk me out of being interested in the job. Her reasons were valid: It's a thankless role (you're never seen outside the plant); it's really hot inside the giant puppet; it's a physically taxing part AND we'd be rehearsing during July.
I knew exactly what I was getting into. This show had been one of my all-time favorite musicals since I was a kid, and I had the self-awareness as an actor to know where I belong -- inside Audrey II.
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Rehearsals began several weeks ago. I got goosebumps hearing the music being sung all around me. The cast and crew are pretty amazing, from our three narrate-trixes (Janelle Gray, Traci Lee, Kristen Smith) to our hero and his girl (Jason Kennedy, Mary Gilbreath-Grim). The man behind the piano, maestro James McQuillen, and I went to middle and high school together. Besides being incredibly talented, these are all good peeps. That matters.
The "plants" - giant puppets that look like colorful Venus flytraps - arrived from Austin the second week of July. There are four in all, ranging from "cute-in-a-coffee-can" size to "I'm going to eat everything you love." Each provides its own unique challenges for me.
But a job's a job, right? I'm an actor. I like to do physical stuff. I love musicals. In other words, this is like the perfect gig. For most of the first act, I am strapped into a seat with a plant pod on top of me. I get to do scenes and perform in numbers as a giant plant without ever uttering a note.
In the final plant, the biggest one and the one that swallows fellow cast members, I squat for 30 minutes as I pull up on a bar to make Audrey II speak and eat. The audience can't see the real comedy. That's inside the plant contraption, not only as I drip sweat like a waterfall, but as I make Audrey "sing" along to the unbelievable singing voice of performer Joseph Holt. Seriously, you will not believe it when this dude comes out to take his bow.
Yes, the plants are hot inside. I am soaked with sweat within minutes, wondering why I bothered to go to the gym before rehearsal. As an acting experience, it's something new for me. I am never seen or heard, but I am playing one of the stars of the show. I exert myself physically to tell a story, which is really no different from the other seven actors the audience gets to see onstage.
After major roles at Kitchen Dog Theater, Uptown Players and other stages, being in Little Shop of Horrors is good for me. I'm stretching my acting muscles. Other actors may think squatting inside a giant rubber plant puppet is merely a bit part. I like to think of it as getting back to my roots.
Little Shop of Horrors begins previews Thursday, July 21, at WaterTower Theatre in Addison. It runs through August 21. Call 972-450-6232 or visit watertowertheatre.org.
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