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The Little Shop
of Horrors

Book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken
Directed by Mikael Barnes
Costume Design by Corey O'Sullivan
The Bonstelle Theatre, Wayne State University

The show was reset in Detroit, on Cass Avenue with a few attendant line changes to bring the Detroit landscape to the forefront; including Mushnik’s Skid Row Florist becoming Mushnik’s Cass Avenue Florist. The voice of Audrey 2 was also cast as a woman; “Feed me, Seymour,” took on a whole new dimension.
The look of the show was suppose to start out as the monochromatic grays of 1950s horror, and to slowly move into the skewed, saturated hues of the same genre in the ‘70’s. Over all, it was a very color driven costume design, in terms of saturation, and also emotional and symbolic color (hue).

Seymour starts the show as a quiet boy who loves plants, and loves Audrey, but only really knows what to do about the plants… I started him on some really soft washed out blues and golds, and even a soft green in some of the plaids; as the story progresses, the color volume gets more intense, and as people start dying, it also gets bloodier. Beyond that, as the show goes on, though the elements of his clothing stay largely unchanged, somehow by the end he starts to look more like a man; A doomed man, but one who knows what it is to have his true love in his arms.

Audrey needs to be frail and sweet in a way that begs for earthly salvation. Her color story moves from violence and seeking all the wrong sort of attention, to happiness, safety and love, and to death with the promise of something after. I wanted to move her cuts from trashy, to sweet, to wedding night innocence.

Orin Scrivello DDS is a sadist, a dentist, and a biker with a thing for handcuffs. Leather pants were a delightful option, and given that the actor was leading with his zipper in any case, an internal codpiece was incorporated. It was something I had considered from the beginning, but seeing the actor interpretation cinched it. The dentist smock was actually one of the first things in the show to be designed and nailed down; it was done in the first meeting with the director. It’s a little straight-jacket, a little bondage, but still reads as dentist on first glance. The stylized tooth logo on the back of his biker jacket was created in Photoshop, printed on iron on transfer paper, and fused to some white muslin; this was then cut out and tacked to the jacket.

Mushnik is basically a good man, if not misguided, and the cardigan in the opening scene gives him a defeated feeling, as well as a little hint of Mr. Rogers. Switching to the Suit jacket indicates some hope in the next scene. His third look is a new suit, with some color and a more expensive looking finish to the fabric.

The temptations: Skip Snip, Mrs. Luce, Bernstein, and Patrick Martin.
I see all of these characters as extensions of Audrey 2 and her evil space-plant designs. I dressed them all in browns, like the root “arms” of the plant, with green accents.

The urchins were meant to reflect the growing prosperity of the flower shop, and the surrounding neighborhood. Ultimately, the girls didn’t have as many changes in the first act as I had originally planned, because by the time all the blocking was done, they just didn’t leave the stage as often as the script said they did. As such, Crystal’s plaid skirt was the first thing to go primarily because the costume assistant who cut it out got the plaids all wonky, and I couldn’t look at it without twitching. After that aberation was out of the picture, I took the opportunity to make the girls look more unified, rather than use them as an indication of day to day, passage of time.
I absolutely had a blast with act 2. Because the show was set on Cass, and there was a fabulous Supremes exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum, right before we went into production; I really wanted to make sure that my design was informed by Motown and by The Supremes, but wasn’t a verbatim copy, and still fit within the styling of the show.