Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Duluth Play Ground Presents...

Little Shop of Horrors. The run is now over, but I did want to write about it. Even though I was extremely tired while seeing it, it was quite good. Therefore, instead of a formal review, where I prompt you to go see it (AND NOW!), I will use this as an example of an occurrence into which actors often run:  seeing shows they were in at a point in time.

So the first thing that you should know is that I played Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors a little less than a year ago. It was a good time, and I have a keen liking of this musical since it surprisingly means a lot more when the plot, stock characters, and songs are analyzed with great depth. Seeing another group of performers' work on the show was a bit daunting, due to the fact that humans automatically compare themselves to others. I have to admit that I fell into this a bit. And this is what I found...

Your Character: (This one's a bit longer because it had me thinking awhile.)
An actor or actress, from my experience, has a deep connection with all the characters they play. Most of the time, they may even claim fictitious characters as their own, strongly defending them with all of their might. It's not a bad thing; after all, they've lived in their shoes for months preparing. It's bound to happen. I feel the same way for Seymour.
Cory Regnier, who is a very talented actor and actually employed by the Duluth Playhouse, played Seymour in the Play Ground's rendition of Little Shop. He was hilarious, as usual (I saw him as Leaf Coney Bear in 25th Annual Putnam County...), and I admired his work entirely. What I noticed is that he played the character differently, a little bit more subtle, than I did. For further perspective, this is how I view Seymour.
From my understanding, the role of Seymour is two things. Pathetic and comedic. These two elements overlap in many aspects, and it poses a challenge to any actor playing it because: 1) it's a leading role that takes a lot of courage to play and 2) Seymour has zero courage. It's very contradictory and, in my opinion, takes a lot of skill. I applaude any actor who endures being eaten by that plant.
Regnier did a great job. Personally, I saw Seymour as more animated, but both he and I (I think I did) did wonderfully.

The Other Characters:
When you're in an ensemble cast, you realize that others have great talent. In turn, you defend their portrayal of their characters as much (and even more) as you do your own.
In this category, I thought the ranks were pretty even. Just like my own character, I saw that the characters could be played in multiple ways. However, they were pretty much played the same, if not dead on by some performers.
It was a fantastic portrayal!

The Set:
Everything seems so personal when it comes to a work of art, doesn't it? Setting a stage, like every other piece of theatre, is as such.
In this aspect, I can't really compare. I really enjoyed the Play Ground and the quaintness of it all, especially for this show. I feel that it was made for this kind of theatre. Our stage was 40 feet across, procenium stage, the works. There's no comparison because of the polar opposites.
In a tug of war competition between the two, the Play Ground wins, in my opinion for this specific show. I can see why they chose to put this one on at the Play Ground versus the Playhouse mainstage.

The Lighting:
They were the same. Same gels, same lights, everything. Great minds think alike!

The Costumes:
They were the same too. Almost identical, in parts. I have to say that this corner for this musical is pretty predetermined, though.

And so concludes my "side-by-side" comparison.

I have to add that their ending was unlike anything I've ever seen. Beautifully done and terrifying, this is why the Play Ground was the perfect venue for it. Wow. Just WOW!

In conclusion, everything kind of seemed like some odd parallel universe. Definitely something to experience for all those actors and actresses out there. For the musicians, it's like a cover song: neither way is wrong, just different. Since theatre is highly creative, who are we to negatively criticize fellow artists? The other actor may be looking at the role completely different or from an even clearer perspective. Take a second and ask if you were wrong and they were right. I know the answer will always come up with: "Well, I guess no one was wrong."

It was a great and entertaining show! Thank you for the great time cast and crew!

'Til next time!

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