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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Ethan Lichtle, left, playing Seymour, and Megan Buss, right, playing Audrey, star in "Little Shop of Horrors" opening this week at IPFW.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 11:10 am

Spotlight: Ethan Lichtle and Megan Buss, 'Little Shop of Horrors'

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

If you go

What: "Little Shop of Horrors"

When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and April 26, 27, 28 and 29; 2 p.m. April 23 (with sign language interpretation)

Where: Williams Theatre, IPFW, 2101 E. Coliseum Blvd.

Admission: $18 adults, $16 seniors, $14 non-IPFW students and groups of 10 or more; $5 IPFW and high school students and children 6 to 17; children younger than 6 will not be admitted; 481-6555 or ipfw.edu/tickets

IPFW's Department of Theatre opens "Little Shop of Horrors" on Thursday. The musical comedy follows a young man, Seymour, who works in a flower shop. Seymour finds a mysterious plant, which he names Audrey II after the woman he pines after. Eventually he figures out the plant needs to feed on humans to survive, and he finds himself tempted to provide it with what it wants in exchange for fame.

Ethan Lichtle, a senior from Decatur who plays Seymour, and Megan Buss, a sophomore from Auburn who plays the human Audrey, took time while rehearsing the show to answer some questions via email. Responses have been edited, but some spoilers remain if you aren't familiar with the story.

Q. There are messages in "Little Shop of Horrors" about fame and morality. How do you think a 2017 audience connects to the show?

Lichtle: The American culture has always been drawn to famed individuals, but I love seeing famous people who come from the smallest and most rural of places. Seymour is one of those individuals who grew from a nobody to a star of Skid Row. However, fame cannot bring you happiness if you hurt those around you to get to the top, which I feel is a message for all of humanity. If you work hard enough and put yourself out there, everyone has a chance to be famous. You are in charge of your life and only you can take the steps to better yourself, but there are a plethora of people to help you along the way. Life is short and each encounter we have and every step we take should be to better ourselves and those around us positively. You never know who you will meet again or who knows who. Morality fits seamlessly with that concept in that, yes, we all make mistakes, but if we listen to our conscience and our gut we can make fewer mistakes and try to stick to a positive path. Seymour did not listen to his gut and became caught up in the glamorous life wrapped with messy nasty strings, which resulted in the biggest mistake of his life.

Buss: I think it's important to recognize that so many people want to be famous and successful; it's human nature to want to be acknowledged and liked. You still hear stories today of people who go against their own moral beliefs to achieve this acknowledgement. In theater, we strive to hold a mirror up to society and to question human nature, and with this show, we are asking, "is fame really worth giving up your own values?" This show can still connect with an audience in 2017 because human nature never changes. We have to fight against these instinctual urges everyday, and it's important to remind people that they should fight against those selfish urges. With Seymour losing everything by the end of the play, including his own life, this play begs the question, "if you don't even have your own values, do you really have anything at all?"

Q. Acting opposite a puppet of Audrey II must pose some challenges (especially when you're manipulating it yourself at the beginning), while also seeming a little absurd at times. What has that rehearsal process been like?

Lichtle: The first few weeks of rehearsal did pose some difficulties because we did not have the plants, so we had to improvise by having our puppeteer, Cameron Tolliver, act as if he had the plant on and would do the movements. Alongside that, Terel Lynn, who voices the plant, stood next to Cameron and delivered his lines and songs, which allowed for us to work on the relationship between Seymour and Audrey II. They have a mother and temperamental toddler type of relationship because of their growth together, physically and mentally, during the course of the production. Since we have had the plants, it has been an unbelievable learning curve and dramatic character development because each interaction feels more realistic, passionate and truly frightening.

Q. Which of the characters most resembles you, and why?

Buss: Considering I'm playing Audrey, I would love to say that I am most like her, but I don't know if that is necessarily true. There are aspects of her that I can relate easily to, such as her strength to carry on with life no matter how hard it gets, and her positivity and tendancy to always see the bright side of things. However, when it comes to actual personality, I'm probably more like one of the urchins. I'm sassy; I never have a problem standing up for myself or other people and I always say exactly what is on my mind, which has made playing Audrey difficult at times.

Q. What have you learned from this production that you will carry with you to future shows, and what are your career goals?

Lichtle: One of the biggest fundamentals I have developed more of during the course of this production is to listen to not only the other characters on stage, but also the text itself. In past productions I found myself simply sing(ing) the songs, but when you truly dive into the words and their meanings, you travel to another place and find yourself clinging to every syllable. By doing this I live more in the moment and my physical and mental reactions are real and heart felt. With graduation just around the corner, I am at this time also preparing myself for the real world and a career as a professional actor. Short term goals would have to be a smooth transition out of college and putting myself out there for auditions and professional work. My overall goal is to be on a cruise ship. Even though it will be hard leaving my amazing family, friends and community, I know they will always be here to support me on my endeavors.

Buss: One of the biggest things I have taken from this show is how to play a character that is almost completely opposite of myself, which is something I had never done prior to "Little Shop of Horrors." I've learned how to let go of my natural reactions and to respond in a way that makes sense for Audrey, even if it is uncomfortable for myself, and that is an important ability to have when acting. My dream career is to perform on Broadway, but honestly, performing anywhere is really the goal at the end of the day. I just want to enjoy my craft and be able to do what I love, the location doesn't matter so much.

Q. Get some revenge on this killer plant: How would you cook it up to eat for dinner?

Lichtle: This last one is an easy (one) because by the end of each production, I would love nothing more than to chop the plant to bits. I would slice Audrey II up and saute it like collard greens, served with bacon and a balsamic vinegar base.

Buss: I would bake him in the oven with some garlic and smother him in cheese. Everything is better with cheese!

cmcmaken@jg.net