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SCERA's 'Little Shop of Horrors' frightfully fun

Published: Tuesday, July 28 2015 4:35 a.m. MDT

Seymour (A.J. Nielsen) feeds the plant from outer space in Seymour (A.J. Nielsen) feeds the plant from outer space in "Little Shop of Horrors," currently playing at the SCERA Center for the Arts. (Mark A. Philbrick)

"LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS," SCERA Center for the Arts, through Oct. 6; directed by Jeremy Showgren, $12 adults, 801-225-ARTS; running time, 2 hours with one intermission

OREM — "Little Shop of Horrors" is always a fun watch.

The story is different. The songs sung by the Ronnettes are upbeat and easy to listen to. The alien plant, named Audrey II, is always a hoot.

Add in some fresh choreography, a colorful Skidrow florist shop set and some well-done acting and this show really works for the SCERA.

A.J. Nielsen is nicely nerdy in his role as Seymour with an obvious crush on the lovely Audrey, played by Emily Maria Bennett.

Usually Audrey is a ditzy blonde, but the brunette Bennett pulls off the accent and the guileless girl act without any trouble.

Seymour (A.J. Nielsen) shows Audrey (Emily Maria Bennett) his new plant, Audrey II, in the SCERA Center for the Arts production of Seymour (A.J. Nielsen) shows Audrey (Emily Maria Bennett) his new plant, Audrey II, in the SCERA Center for the Arts production of "Little Shop of Horrors." (Mark A. Philbrick)

She's in a troubled relationship with Orin Scrivello, the sadistic dentist played masterfully and wickedly by Mike Shepherd. Seymour wants to rescue her.

When Audrey II's demands for blood ramp up, Scrivello provides a stop-gap meal and the plot, as they say, thickens, as he cannot abuse Audrey any more.

It makes for a riveting storyline as Seymour tries to balance caring for the cannibalistic, chomping plant and keeping some moral integrity as the plant rewards him for the meals.

The Ronnettes — Mollie Burdett, Shani Harper and Lauren Ashlee Anderson — are graceful and sing the show favorites with a lush, cool blend. Their costumes are interesting also, in pink, yellow and blue respectively, throughout. (Audrey has some nice, tight, satin costumes as well.)

Kyle Harper gives voice to Audrey II while Brodee Ripple works the puppet. Together they create a plant with personality, one that shakes with happiness when it's well-fed and moves with menace when it's not.

Audrey (Emily Maria Bennett) is threatened by her abusive dentist boyfriend (Mike Shepherd) in Audrey (Emily Maria Bennett) is threatened by her abusive dentist boyfriend (Mike Shepherd) in "Little Shop of Horrors" while Seymour (A.J. Nielsen) cowers nearby. (Mark A. Philbrick)

Even if you've seen this show before, there are moments in the SCERA production that are unique, such as the appearance of zombies and well-timed collisions with garbage cans and death.

It's humorous and sweet and horrible all at the same time.

Only a couple of minor problems. The opening behind Audrey II is visible and there was a sound glitch or two on Monday night.

Other than that, it's a fairly flawless, comic, musical, science-fiction show that deserves a good audience.

Bear in mind that very young children may be alarmed at a couple of scenes.

A nice touch is the prologue voiced by former KSL anchor Dick Nourse.

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com. Email: haddoc@desnews.com

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