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‘Little Shop of Horrors’ coming to De Pere

By Lee Reinsch

DE PERE – Those who dare to plant themselves in a seat at Birder Studio’s Broadway Theatre this weekend may find themselves consumed by laughter.

“Little Shop of Horrors” is a fast-paced musical about Seymour, an employee of a barely surviving floral shop on Skid Row, who, during a complete solar eclipse, discovers a flesh-eating plant.

In honor of Audrey, his romantic interest and fellow floral shop colleague, Seymour names the plant Audrey II.

At first, the plant garners the floral shop some much-needed business and attention.

But Audrey II’s growing demand for human flesh begins to increase the stress for poor Seymour, as well as heighten the laughs for the audience.

“It’s a dark comedy,” said Chad Lemerande, production manager for Birder Studio/Birder Players. “It’s a hilarious take on the 1950s and 60s over-the-top sci-fi horror genre of movie that was popular at the time.”

Set around 1960, the musical features an assortment of doo-wop and rock ‘n’ roll songs.

The cast of nine features UW-Green Bay vocal instructor Tomás Dominguez as Seymour; Caitlin Lloyd as Audrey; Lemerande as Mr. Mushnik, the owner of the floral shop; and Will Knaapen as Orin Scrivello, the evil dentist and boyfriend of Audrey.

Area high school students JaymeAnn Olson, Maya AbuJamra and Abby Meyer play Crystal, Chiffon and Ronnette, the three narrators of the musical.

Christine Lemerande brings Audrey II to life as puppeteer and local actor Jeremy Pelegrin gives voice to Audrey II.

It’s a cast that has a great chemistry, Lemerande said.

“They’ve performed together before in other productions, and they really work well together,” he said.

It’s long been considered good luck to tell an actor before a performance to (figuratively) break a leg.

Well, the cast of “Little Shop of Horrors” will see if literally breaking a leg has the desired effect: Pelegrin, the voice of Audrey II, was originally cast as Mr. Mushnik, and until a few days ago, that’s the character he played.

Last weekend – the last full weekend before opening night – Pelegrin actually did break his leg.

So Lemerande, who was originally supposed to be the voice of Audrey II, offered to swap roles with him.

Lemerande will play Mushnik, and Pelegrin will voice Audrey II.

“My director, Chad Lemerande, is a class act,” Pelegrin said on Facebook regarding the switch.

It’s hoped that by the second weekend, Pelegrin will be able to play Mushnik, albeit with the help of crutches.

The cast started rehearsing for “Little Shop of Horrors” in late February.

Lemerande said the production is the effort of 23 people from around the Green Bay area who have come together to put on the show.

Alicia Birder serves as producer, with her father, Dudley Birder, as associate producer.

Alicia Birder founded Birder Studio of Performing Arts about 25 years ago.

Birder Studio (and the Birder Players) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Birder Studio recently moved into space at 801 Heritage Road that formerly housed Simply Ballroom and now includes a variety of dance classes, from ballroom to Irish folk, among its repertoire of offerings, along with singing, vocal, monologue, drama and piano lessons and more.

Lemerande is a vocal and acting instructor and operates the Broadway Theatre in De Pere, home of the Birder Players.

“Little Shop of Horrors” opens Friday, April 5.

Its six shows are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 5 and 6; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 7; 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 12; and (two shows) 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at the De Pere Broadway Theatre, 123 S. Broadway.

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