First Act: Little Shop of Horrors

WILMINGTON -- In a stage production where a singing plant is the main character, you know you're in for something unique. Throw in an unlikely hero, a somewhat ditzy blonde and a demented dentist, and you've got a twisted story that takes place in a "Little Shop of Horrors." But don't let the name fool you.

"It's not a scary show. It's entertaining and fun in the way it's presented," says Director Ron Chisholm.

The show is presented on the majestic Thalian Hall main stage. Nerdy, insecure Seymour is thrown into the spotlight when he discovers a rare species of plant. There's a twist. That plant has an appetite for blood, and anyone standing in Seymour's path to happiness quickly becomes fertilizer.

It takes quite a bit of effort to make a plant the star of a theatrical show. Several people work the puppet. Another provides the voice. That voice sounds like Barry White or Isaac Hayes, but it actually belongs to a 14-year-old New Hanover High School freshman.

"I auditioned and I got to be the plant. I was thinking what, there's no way," says Daren Jackson.

Juli Harvey, best known for her role as wardrobe mistress for many theater productions, is making her stage debut inside the oversized flytrap, moving the mouth in time to Jackson's voice.

"I'm really glad that no one will see me. So I get to be on stage but not actually on stage," says Harvey.

Even for the actors who are on the stage in this production, with apologies to Shakespeare, the plant's the thing.

If you'd like to see "Little Shop of Horrors," it's running weekends through September 3 at Thalian Hall. Friday and Saturday performances are at 8:00pm. Sunday performances are at 3:00pm. For ticket information call 343-3662 or click here.

Reported by Heather Setzler