Little Shop of Horrors thrills its opening weekend


Kylie Mangione

M.J. Gamelin (Seymour) alongside the ensemble in Act I.

Kylie Mangione, Contributor, [email protected]

Students and faculty at UNC Asheville prepare for their first week of performance for “Little Shop of Horrors” starting Oct. 27. 

Based on the 1986 verbatim screenplay, “Little Shop of Horrors” is a horror comedy musical about a florist named Seymour, who ends up raising an alien, man-eating venus fly trap by the name of Audrey 2. 

M.J. Gamelin, a senior who has been a part of the UNCA theater department since 2019, plays the lead role of Seymour Krelborn. 

“Seymour really represents the underdog,” Gamelin said. “Seymour is nerdy and a bit awkward, but he’s just trying his best, which I can relate to.”

The senior also discusses what it means to him to play the role of Seymour, as a trans man.  

“The thing about this show and this character that means the most to me is getting to play Seymour as a trans man. The theater industry is still really hesitant to cast trans people in leading roles but this company has welcomed me with open arms and I’ve felt so supported and accepted,” Gamelin said. 

Gamelin says his main challenge is acting alongside an inanimate object rather than an actual human actor.

“So much of theater and so much of acting is working off the other people in the scene with you,  so when your scene partner is made of foam and eight feet tall, it’s challenging,” Gamelin said. “But I think it’s made me a better actor.” 

Hannah Van Gorder, a senior at UNCA, plays the role of Audrey, a coworker of Seymour, who is also his love interest.

Audrey is a wonderfully complex character and yet she’s so often portrayed as helpless and entirely comical,” Van Gorder said. “We’ve taken a new approach in characterizing her: she’s scared, insecure, and abused, but she’s not stupid. Breaking her from the way I’ve seen her played in the past was difficult at first, but I’m so glad it’s the direction we’ve taken.” 

One member of the ensemble cast, Orn Carter, describes the show as “the story of Seymour and Audrey as they face the inter-dimensional threat of one very angry space plant”.

In their ensemble role, Carter plays five different roles. They play the roles of wino #1, a customer, Mrs. Luce and Martin. 

Carter, freshman, became involved with the UNCA theater department in August when auditions for “Little Shop of Horrors” were first being held. 

“This show is the hopeful beginning of a long journey in theater and performance,” Carter said. 

Shel Sammis, a sophomore, works behind the scenes of the show as the assistant stage manager. 

“I do rehearsal reports, line notes, actor check-ins, make sure they are Living la Vida Loca and everything is good,” Sammis said. 

Maycen Ellis, a senior involved with the UNCA theater department since their first year, is one of the puppeteers for Audrey 2. 

“I’ve been working with Audrey 2 since September,” Ellis said. 

There have been several challenges during the rehearsals and tech week as the show grows ever closer. Ellis says there have been a lot of hold-ups and changes with finalizing the puppets, for a very good, understandable reason, so adapting to the changes and working on the fly have been a challenge.

“Come see the show!” Ellis said. “And who not consider feeding your local sweet-talking plant some blood? What’s the worst that could happen?”

Little Shop of Horrors first set of performances are from Oct. 27-29, starting at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 30th at 2 p.m. The second set of shows start Nov. 3-5, at 7:30 p.m and Nov. 7 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased digitally through Eventbrite.