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Youngsters star in first production
MALVERN Theatres Young Company will take to the stage this month with their first ever production, Little Shop of Horrors.
The show tells the story of a down-and out skid row floral assistant who becomes an overnight sensation when he discovers an exotic plant with a mysterious craving for fresh blood.
Soon Audrey II grows into an ill-tempered, foul-mouthed, R&B-singing carnivore who offers him fame and fortune in exchange for feeding its growing appetite, finally revealing itself to be an alien creature poised for global domination.
The show stars Douglas Watts, Abbie Steele, Bryony-Rose Ward, Jo Edwards, Matthew Heels, Charlotte Heels, Jacob Kipping and Liam Brown.
The talented company of young performers, all aged between 14 and 25, was selected after an extensive search for local gifted performers back in February to form Malvern Theatres first young company.
Abbie Steele, a drama and performance student at the University of Worcester, won the role of Audrey after receiving an email about the auditions through the university.
But the 21-year-old said the audition was originally for a role in Guys and Dolls before being changed to Little Shop of Horrors.
She said she knew very little about the show before they started rehearsals.
“It’s challenging and exciting which is why I like to go in for stuff like this,” she said.
“I’ve come to love it I think because it isn’t just comedy all the way through.
“There’s a dark story underneath. I’ve learnt a lot about my character that I wasn’t expecting to.”
Douglas Watts, from Ledbury, stars as Seymour in the production.
The 19-year-old, who is normally a singer, said the production was a “massive” learning curve.
Like Abbie, he knew very little about the show and did not watch the film.
He said: “I’ve tried to bring my own interpretation to the role.
“It presents itself as a comedy but there’s different levels of intensity.
“There’s lots of situations the characters don’t bring upon themselves.
“It’s dark and sarcastic, there’s a foreboding level of intensity so the feel of the musical is utterly changed.”
The project aims to enable young people to work alongside professional musicians, directors and choreographers as well as provides behind-the-scenes placements in costume, make-up, hair, backstage and stage management.
Little Shop of Horrors will be directed by Andy Reiss of the acclaimed Beyond the Barricade Company.
Reiss has directed and performed in musicals including Les Miserables, Evita and Chess.
He said: “I’ve been coming down to Malvern for about six years doing workshops at the theatre.
"This is the first time we’ve expanded on the idea by trying to do a musical in two weeks and for the company to achieve that in the time frame is incredible.
"We have lots of different abilities and backgrounds within the young company but that doesn’t matter.
"It’s all about the experience and I hope this is the start of bigger things to come.”
Musical director David Lane has more than 40 years of experience and choreographer Katie Leeming spent three years in the West End playing various roles.
Little Shop of Horrors is at Malvern Theatres between Wednesday and Sunday, August 15 and 19.
Tickets are available from the box office on 01684 892 277 or online at malvern-theatres.co.uk.