Marshall’s Franke Center for the Arts has been either dark or online for many months, but a live show opens this weekend, although it won’t be on the Franke Center Stage either.  Theater fans will be able to watch “Little Shop of Horrors” where they probably saw the demolition derby, tractor pulls, and harness racing:  The Calhoun County Fairgrounds grandstand!

Producer Allison Ebner said they’ve been rehearsing exclusively outdoors, with masks, at the grandstand.   "We’ve had some challenges with the weather, but the show is ready and we’ll be able to perform on stage without masks.”

Ebner said every cast member will wear a microphone for the show, a rock musical about a man-eating, foul-mouthed plant named “Audrey II.”  You might remember the 1986 movie version starring Rick Moranis.

In the show, meek floral assistant Seymour Krelborn stumbles across a new breed of a plant which he names “Audrey II” – after his coworker crush. The singing carnivore promises unending fame and fortune to the down and out Krelborn as long as he keeps feeding it, BLOOD. Over time, though, Seymour discovers Audrey II’s out-of-this-world origins and intent towards global domination!

Ebner said the “Audrey II” costume has just arrived and costs $1,200 to rent.  Another big cost will be the sound system required.   The Franke Center is one of the most intimate stage venues in West Michigan.   This will be a little different.   Thousands of people could potentially see the show, but Ebner says they’re only allowed to have up to 280 for each performance.  That’s not because of any health regulation though.  That’s the number on the license agreement that the Franke Center has with the show’s publisher.

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Ebner said people will have three different seating options.  There will be grandstand seating, chair seating on the track between the infield stage and the grandstand, and you can even pull your car in and watch the show as if you were at the Drive-In movie theater.   “We’ll have room for two rows of cars, and will broadcast the sound on FM radio.”

The show is being directed by Jennifer Conley Darling and choreographed by Beau Hutchings, both Marshall natives with extensive professional theater experience.

“We are all so happy to be working together again! Moving the production to an outdoor venue comes with its challenges, but the cast and crew are working hard to bring this fan-favorite musical to our community. We can’t wait to see everyone at the Fairgrounds,” says Jennifer Conley Darling.

The cast is comprised of 9th – 12th-grade students featuring Jack MacQuaig (Seymour), Emma Garrett (Audrey), Stephen Klepper (Mr. Mushnik), Sam Rodgers (Orin), Mary Kurtz (Voice of Audrey II), Ethan Twiss (Audrey II Puppeteer), and Olivia Amting, Abbi Klepper, Morgan Miklusicak, Lynnsey Oswald, Jenna Rissi and Natalie Traynor as the Doo Wop Girls.

Rounding out the ensemble is Nathan Amey, Makayla Bailey, Noelia Barroso, Lillian Bowman, Erin Bucienski, Paul Butterfield, Sofia Casey, Eliana Dubois, Adrienne Dysinger, Elliana Ebner, Makenna Groeneveld, Jordan Harrell, Gabby Jude, Hallie Machalka, Remee Morse, Ryan Murphy, Aiden Saunders, Nova Schnitzler, Audrey Smith, and Kayla Smith.

  • Who: The Franke Center for the Arts
  • What: “Little Shop of Horrors”
  • When: June 4 and 5 at 7 pm and June 6 at 6 pm
  • Where: Calhoun County Fairgrounds on the Grandstand Stage, 720 Fair Street in Marshall. Enter through the Fair Street entrance.
  • How: Three options for seating will be made available on-site. Bring your own chair and sit in the track, stay in your car and listen through your radio, or sit in the Grandstand.
  • Cost: $15.00 in advance and $17.00 at the door. To purchase tickets, visit www.thefranke.org or call 269-781-0001

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