Balancing dark comedy, musical parody, and '50s sci-fi homage, "Little Shop of Horrors" tells the story of lowly flower shop employee Seymour, who discovers a mysterious plant that makes him an overnight sensation. Things are complicated when his new plant starts talking to him, promising to fulfill his dreams of sweeping co-worker Audrey off her feet, as long as he's willing to get a little blood on his hands.
In the midst of a busy schedule producing and directing shows on and off Broadway, Lyric's former artistic director, Nick Demos, has returned to Oklahoma City to direct "Little Shop," bookending his tenure at the company with a tale of true love and man-eating plants.
"It was the last show I did here (in 1999) before I became the artistic director, and it's my first show back after stepping down," he said.
For this production of "Little Shop," Demos has reunited with lead actors from that 1999 production: Matthew Alvin Brown as Seymour and Amy Eschman as Audrey.
"'Little Shop' was the first thing I had directed Matt and Amy in, and I've worked with them both so much since then and know them so well, and we have a lovely working relationship," Demos said.
REPRISING THE SHOW
Brown said reprising the show felt like spending time with family "? a sentiment echoed by Eschman.
"I trust the two of them immensely, both as artists and as friends, and that's a rare gift in this business," she said.
The Seymour character is one that Brown feels "truly connected to," one he's now taken on three times.
"Luckily for me, I've had the same Audrey each time," he said. "I feel like Amy and I were born to play these parts."
Brown and Eschman also performed opposite each other as students in a University of Central Oklahoma production of "Little Shop" that staged prior to the 1999 Lyric show.
Eschman said that she really enjoys Audrey's innocence.
"She's been around the block, but she believes in the good in people "? she believes what she's told so wholeheartedly and therein lies the comedy," she said. "Beyond the ditzy demeanor and trashy attire, she is a fragile, complex, pure, damaged angel."
Demos said that the 10 years between productions has made a difference for himself and the two actors "? life and stage experience that deepens the characters and performances.
"All those little things I missed before "? things I couldn't possibly understand about her "? I feel I do now," Eschman said.
As director, Demos changed his approach for the current production, which stages through Saturday at the Civic Center Music Hall.
"I'm taking it to a bit darker place than last time. It's going to be a bit grungier," he said. "There's going to be more emphasis on the black comedy. The most recent revival was very cartoony, but this is going to be more horror film."
Little Shop of Horrors, presented by Lyric Theatre, stages at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Saturday at Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker.