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Little Shop of Horrors at Pleasant Hill

Just like the herbaceous monstrosity at the heart of this campy musical romp, the cult appeal of Little Shop of Horrors just keeps on growing. But if you’ve merely seen the movie starring Steve Martin and Rick Moranis, you only know half the story. 

Director John Muellner says the play — opening Friday, May 4, at Pleasant Hill Community Theatre — is “totally different” from the movie. “There’s a surprise ending,” Muellner says, “and as a result the audience is not going to expect what they usually have seen in the film.”

The Pleasant Hill Community Theatre stage is tiny and intimate, but Muellner’s set optimizes the space through engineering and design. “After certain scenes, the set opens up,” he says, “and all of a sudden there’s the dentist office.” 

Alan Menken, best known for his Academy Award-winning music for many Disney productions, composed the plays 17 musical numbers, an upbeat mix sung by “doo-woppers” rhyming “little shop” with “bop-she-bop.” “There’s more music than dialog,” says Muellner, though his cast shines too.

The script calls for only six characters, though Muellner packs in 18 altogether. His choreographer is Al Villanueva, Churchill High School’s drama director. The leading lady, Chiffon, is played by Sage Davis, a junior in high school and already an experienced performer. Flower shop owner Mr. Mushnik is played by Don Aday, a veteran of Fred Crafts’ “Radio Redux” shows. The dentist is played as an “evil Elvis” by Chris Nordquist, who recently performed in the Very Little Theatre’s production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Grammar school kids play street urchins, and also help as puppeteers. The chorus is equally stellar. One of the singers, Serena Violet, is a student of local performer Siri Vik. Performing the music are professional musicians who play in rock bands hailing from Sacramento to Washington. “I’m proud that we have such a talented group of people,” Muellner says.

Little Shop of Horrors plays May 4-13 at Pleasant Hill Community Theatre, 35575-1/2 Zephyr Way, Pleasant Hill; for times & tickets, visit phct.org or call 541-988-1195.