February 5, 2023

Little shop of what?


With “Little Shop of Horrors” opening in a few weeks, Eastern Utah Theatre’s 2015-16 season includes Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” David Lindsey-Abaire’s, Pulitzer Prize winning play “Rabbit Hole,” and Neil Simon’s, “Rumors.” All four productions will christen the opening of the Central Instructional Building and the Petersen Black Box Theater.
Renovations and the addition of the scene shop to the Geary Theater allows the historic theater to rest for the first time in nearly 56 years. All Eastern productions will be in the state-of-the-art Black Box theater. For those unfamiliar with the term, a black box space is a theatre with an almost infinite number of seating arrangements. It is a more intimate setting allowing the audience to experience theatre up close and more personal, said Corey Ewan, theatre department chair.
Opening Oct. 8 and playing through the 17th is Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s, “Little Shop of Horrors,” a play that many may be familiar with. It is a musical based on the low-budget 1960 black-comedy film of the same name and the 1986 film starring Rick Moranis and directed by Frank Oz (Fozzie Bear, Yoda). 
The story centers on Seymour, who works at a flower shop. One day during an eclipse, he discovers a “strange and exotic plant,” he names Audrey II (after the love of his life, Audrey). However, his plant is no normal plant. It came from outer space and requires a diet of fresh blood.
Seymour gives the plant his own blood. The plant promises Seymour to grant him anything his “secret heart desires,” as long as he keeps feeding it but, when people start dying, the plant wants more than a few drops of blood.
In the musical’s initial run, it was critically acclaimed and won several awards including the 1982–1983 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical, and the Outer Critics Circle Award. The production ran five years, with 2,209 performances. This made it the third-longest running musical and the highest-grossing production in Off-Broadway history.
Finishing fall semester sees Jarom Christopher Brown coming back to Eastern to direct William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Brown earned a master’s of fine arts from William and Mary in Shakespeare studies. He directed last year’s production of “The Merchant of Vegas.”
“He brings an energy and a love for Shakespeare and his language. He was very patient in teaching our students the how’s and why’s of Shakespeare in production. He even taught this old dog some new tricks,” Ewan said.
“Hamlet” is arguably Shakespeare’s greatest work. It has it all: great characters, a strong plot, beautiful language, meaning and spectacle. Playing the lead character will be a challenge, as it has been for any actor who has taken the role; John Barrymore, Lawrence Olivier, John Gielgud, Richard Burton, Keanu Reeves, and David Tennant, Ewan continued.
This production will be a full participant in The American College Theatre Festival. What this means is that Eastern’s show will be watched by two-official respondents representing the organization who will evaluate the strengths and challenges of the production and may recommend its inclusion in this next year’s festival. Although not a competition, Eastern will vie with other schools hoping that their shows may be chosen. This gives Eastern the opportunity to bring this production to the festival in February where it will be seen by colleges/universities from Arizona, Central and Southern California, Hawaii, Southern Nevada and Utah. This year the festival will be held at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa and Chaminade University of Honolulu.
According to the KCACTF home page, it states, “Through state, regional, and national festivals, KCACTF student and faculty participants celebrate the creative process and share experiences and insights within the community of theater artists. The KCACTF honors excellence of overall production and offers student artists individual recognition through awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, dramatic criticism, directing and design.”
This will be a fun and memorable opening semester for USU Eastern theatre, Ewan said. hopes the community will join Eastern for the inaugural season of the new Black Box theater and the Central Instructional Building. “Let’s make USU Eastern history together.”

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