Jessica Carr says “Little Shop of Horrors” is the zaniest show she has ever worked on.
The musical, a production of Mount Baker Theatre’s Repertory Theatre, opens Wednesday, Sept. 24, on the theater’s main stage, and runs through Sept. 28.
One of the longest-running shows on Broadway, it’s about a down-and-out floral assistant, Seymour, who gains celebrity status when one of his exotic plants seems to have a craving for fresh blood. Other characters include a rather sadistic dentist and the girl Seymour loves, Audrey, who happens to be the girlfriend of the motorcycle-riding dentist.
It is Carr’s fourth production with Mount Baker Theatre, having designed costumes for “My Fair Lady,” “Almost Maine” and “The Producers.” A freelance costume and wig designer in Portland, Ore., she drives to Bellingham during the rehearsal and run of the show, and stays for the entire process.
Carr says the musical, which is set in the 1970s, gives her a lot of fun material to play with, from the clothing to the Farrah hair. The main challenge in her department is making sure all of the costumes will fit before rehearsals start, since she doesn’t have access to the actors as in a “normal” show situation. So she relies on her assistant designer, Cassandra Leon, to be that point-person for the actors.
Carr says her favorite part of being a costume and wig designer is how it completes the characters.
“The actors always says that they are not complete until they get the costumes, and I really love being able to design and mold the characters in a creative and visual way,” she says. “Wig, hair and makeup are usually an afterthought, but I like to make sure the actors have the complete picture of what the character looks like, because a certain hairdo, makeup appliance or clothing piece can change everything about the character.”
Fittings are always the best part, Carr says, because they give another layer to the character they might not have thought of, and because it is usually so early in the process that the costume and hair can help mold the character if the actor is having trouble.
Carr is one of the production people who will attend the after-show question-and-answer session at the opening show on Sept. 24.
Bud Coleman, the production’s director and choreographer, served the same positions for last year’s Mount Baker presentation of “The Producers.” He has been working with the designers all summer to explore how Audrey II (the magical plant) looks and grows throughout the show. The production features original designs for the set, costumes, lighting and sound, so the show won’t look like any other production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” he says.
“We are creating our own vision of this satire of science fiction, ‘B’ movies, musical comedy, and the Faust legend,” Coleman says.
There will be surprises for the audience, he adds, but wouldn’t reveal what they are, of course. He also will be at the Q-and-A session Sept. 24.
The cast and artistic staff for the show are comprised of theater professionals and amateurs from Whatcom County and the Seattle area.
As for younger audience members, Coleman says the 1986 film was rated PG-13, which he considers good advice.
But, he says, “this show is for those who love musical comedy, campy science fiction and ‘B’ movies at a drive-in, or love the idea of watching a movie at a drive-in!”