Kauai Community Players opens its 2017 season on Friday

Kauai Community Players opens its 2017 season tonight with the beloved sci-fi musical comedy, “Little Shop of Horrors” by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman.

In this hilarious musical smash, Seymour and Audrey find love while Seymour tries to keep Audrey II, a people-eating plant in the flower shop where he works, satisfied. Little Shop of Horrors won the 1983 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical.

Director Rebecca Hanson, who was in Little Shop of Horrors in college, believes this will be a terrific show.

“What’s really interesting about this show, it’s a really upbeat musical but what’s hidden underneath all that fun music is this plant who reflects the devil and gets this very innocent man to perform grisly tasks,” she said.

Seymour is a character who is in constant conflict, at a constant crossroads.

“He wants love, he wants success, he wants to be happy, and he has this little devil on his shoulder getting him to do things,” Hanson said. “For me, it’s really making sure that’s accentuated. We have to understand, this is a man-eating plant and sometimes, we forget that in the show.”

The play satirizes many different topics, including science fiction, “B” movies, musical comedy, and the Faust legend (in which a man sells his soul to the Devil). In his music, Menken used many of the musical styles of the early 1960s, including rock and roll, doo-wop, and Motown.

KCP’s production, under the leadership of Rebecca Hanson as director and Nina Saraos as musical director, features an outstanding cast. It includes Billy Quebido as Seymour, Jessika Montoya as Audrey and Arnold Meister as Mr. Mushnik, the shop owner.

Montoya said the show is spectacular and the talent of the cast and crew, amazing.

She is confident the audience will be “completely and utterly entertained. They’re going to laugh, they might cry. But it’s not real sad. It’s like a funny sad. It’s a satire on musical theater. It’s beautiful. Wonderful people telling a beautiful story.”

Meister, who has had a legendary career in theater, said getting to work with this cast has been a treat.

“Jessika is very talented. She has a wonderful singing voice,” he said.

Meister’s last show he directed for Kauai Performing Arts Theater about 18 years ago before he retired was Little Shop of Horrors. He noted that one of his cast members then was a teenager named Eric Hagan.

“Fast forward, Eric Hagan is the dentist and I’m in the cast this time, not directing it,” Meister said, smiling.

He likes the intimacy of the Puhi Theatrical Warehouse and believes it enhances the show’s experience for guests.

“There’s a vibrancy when you’re sitting 10 feet away,” Meister said. “I think that magic of theater is really strong in this show.”

Hanson had high praise for Nelli Foster, stage manager, Saraos, and the nine-member cast. Rehearsals started in early November.

“It’s a really big show. Nelli has been my right hand woman to get it all done,” she said. “The cast, they’ve been enthusiastic and dedicated from day one. And Nina, I love working with her.”

Hanson, who directed Hawaii Children’s Theatre’s Summer After Dark Show “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” is also the director of HCT’s Summer Stars program. She said the audience is sure to love Little Shop of Horrors.

“They will laugh, they will be in awe of the technical aspects of the show, the puppetry, the lighting, the set, and hopefully at the end of it all, they’ll have a really great time.

Little Shop of Horrors plays through Jan. 29 with performances on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m and Sundays at 4 p.m. at the Puhi Theatrical Warehouse, 4411 Kikowaena Street, Lihue, across the street from Kauai Community College.

This weekend’s shows are sold out.

For tickets to remaining show, go to www.kauaicommunityplayers.org.

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