A man-eating plant has invaded the stage at Payson High School.
It arrived at the auditorium as freight-on-board April 15 where it immediately made the ominous demand: "Feed me!"
Seymour is doing just that, night after night in rehearsals.
Seth Scott plays Seymour, a man who makes his living as a clerk in Mr. Mushnick's flower shop and pines for the love of a human woman named Audrey.
"Little Shop of Horrors" opens for public consumption at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 24.
Further public performances are Friday, April 25 at 4 p.m. and Saturday, April 26 at 7 p.m.
Jennifer "Phoenix" Hayes could be considered the monstrous plant's first victim.
She donned the 41-pound Audrey II plant costume eagerly. Thusly did her legs transform to roots. Her torso disappeared inside the giant flowerpot. Her arms and head became a toothy, yellow, orange and red flower.
When Phoenix opens and closes Audrey II's massive jaws, the voice of Zachary Horsley will emanate.
Making Audrey II believable requires coordination between puppeteer, voice, sound technician and stagehands helping Hayes get around back stage and in and out of two plant costumes.
There are actually four separate plants. The first one Hayes will wear weighs about 25 pounds.
"The first rehearsal went pretty good," Hayes said.
She squats on a modified chair inside the plant pot and pulls it forward with her root-encrusted feet.
"The toughest part is that all of my support is in my thigh muscles and forearms," she said.
It takes 5 to 10 minutes for Hayes and a couple of stagehands to make Audrey II presentable for the audience. She spends about 90-minutes each night rehearsing in the two costumes.
Playing the maniacal plant appealed to Hayes because becoming a puppeteer for a theatrical production is unique for Payson.
Audrey II does not care to dine on normal high school attire so Hayes wears shorts and a tank top as she manipulates the character.
Within a few minutes, she is drenched in sweat.
The technical crew will make sure the audience's eyes are rooted to the ghastly goings on in Mr. Mushnick's flower shop, by taking care of business.
In the sound booth, sound manager Mac Still will make certain that Horsely's voice issues from the stage.
Managing sound for the show is "pretty intense" yet with 16 microphones it is four mikes short of the most laborious show Still has done.
"Phoenix will have a monitor in her ears so she can hear Zach's voice clearly to puppeteer the plant correctly," Still said.
That famous bebop sound
"This should be one of the best shows we've ever put on," Horsley said.
His last singing role was as Kenickie in the 2006 production of "Grease." He has been singing ever since he was asked to join the fifth-grade choir as a second-grader, but this is the first time he will sing with an accent.
"‘Little Shop' is a popular musical for high schools and professional theaters -- it has that famous bebop sound," drama teacher Kathy Siler said.
Alan Menken composed "Skid Row (Downtown)," "Somewhere That's Green," "Suddenly Seymour" and the title song in the style of early 1960's rock 'n' roll and doo-wop for the 1982 musical.
The pit band will take the stage this year as "bums on the street."
Adult musicians are: Greg Larkins on keyboards and Bobby Phylow onass guitar, and PHS graduate Ryan Fanizza is on drums. PHS freshman Taylor Goss is also on keyboard. PHS music teacher Larry Potvin is the musical director.
Kathy Kaufman is the vocal director.
The "Doo-Wop Girls" (The Greek Chorus) are: Jessie Carpino, Danielle Westrom, Hayley Scott and Christina Breen.
"The new sound system provided by Tonto Community Concert Association and the new microphones, purchased with Credit For Kids fine arts money, will provide excellent sound for voice, singing, music and effects," Siler said.
"This will make a difference for those that might not have come to our shows in recent years because of lousy sound quality or from not being able to hear," she added.
The show's choreographer is PHS and American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles graduate, Anita Meggitt.
The musical also stars Jen Sandoval as the human Audrey, Connor Tierney as Orin, the crazy biker-dentist, and Brad Johnson as Mr. Mushnick.
There will be a snack bar and a boutique in the lobby during intermission.
Student artists will bring their traveling show from the district's board room to the lobby so drama patrons can enjoy an art-filled evening.
What remains to be digested is whether Seymour and the real human Audrey fall in love or will he take Audrey II "Somewhere That's Green"?
- Thursday, April 24 at 7 p.m., Friday, April 25 at 4 p.m. and Saturday, April 26 at 7 p.m.
- Adult admission: $6
- Child admission: $5
- Longhorn Pride Card admission: $4