It’s spooky season and Tyler Civic Theatre is ready to deliver you a night of thrills, suspense, romance, and one giant, man-eating plant. Welcome to the Little Shop of Horrors.
Based on the 1960 film from Roger Corman, and later adapted into the 1986 movie musical, this is the tale of a boy, a girl, and a giant man-eating plant. Set in the 1960s, the story follows the employees of Mushnik’s Skid Row Flower Shop on…well…Skid Row. Here we have grumpy owner Mushnik (Regi Fowler), sweet but troubled Audrey (Holly Tarkon), and geeky Seymour (Stephen Rainwater), an orphan that Mushnik informally adopted and put to work in his flower shop. Unfortunately for all of them, the business of late has been terrible.
In an effort to drum up business, Audrey suggests that they try selling one of the unusual plants Seymour has been tooling around within Mushnik’s basement. The plant he chooses was one Seymour picked up immediately following a solar eclipse. They stick it in the shop window and it begins to attract not only customers but the media. When asked what he calls the plant, he names it Audrey II.
While the shop is having success, it hasn’t made the personal lives of Audrey and Seymour any easier. Audrey is trapped in an abusive relationship with Orin (Matt Magill), a sadistic dentist hooked on laughing gas. As long as Audrey is stuck with Orin, it means that Seymour can’t be with her, despite his very clear affection for her. Even though everyone from Mushnik to people on the street to even Audrey herself think she should be with Seymour.
Also added to Seymour’s woes is the fact that Audrey II is sick. None of his efforts to feed the plant fail until one night when he pricks his finger on a rose bush and it cries out for his blood. The blood nourishes Audrey II but as it grows in size, so does its appetite. Audrey II, who can speak, tells Seymour that if he feeds it, it can help make his wishes come true. Seymour, however, must decide if his dreams are worth the life of an innocent…or a not so innocent.
“Little Shop of Horrors” was written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, who also collaborated on the Disney films “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.” The TCT production was directed by Megan Magill, making her TCT directorial debut. Magill assembled a wonderful collection of actors, musicians, and tech crew to bring this production to life. I hope she continues to be as prolific at the Civic Theatre as she and her husband, Matt, are in the East Texas music scene.
I have been a huge fan of the shows a TCT since I started reviewing them over a year ago. It’s been an absolute joy seeing all of the amazing talents we have in the East Texas area. I don’t like to play favorites but of all the productions I’ve seen there, this one is easily one of my favorites.
Let’s talk about the cast. I have to give the first shout out and praise to Sherry Berry, Brittany Crowe, and Cedtrese Williams, the trio that plays the street urchins, the Greek chorus that is the heart and soul, emphasis on soul, of this show. They provide three powerhouse voices that, quite honestly, gave me goosebumps in their opening number.
I also want to give praise to Justin Forward, Kendall Phillips, and Sarah Smith who may be credited as “dancers,” but they do far more than that, providing back up to the urchins and as part of the ensemble. This trio was part of “Rock of Ages” (Forward and Phillips) and “Legally Blonde” (Smith) this summer, and are as great here as they were in their previous shows. Speaking of ensemble, Cameron Davis, Alexis Leyva, Helaina Wilkerson, Trisha Wise, and Alan Zamaron all bring their A game and hold as much attention as the lead characters.
This cast also has some wonderful scene-stealing performances. Matt Magill is insanely good as Orin, the dentist. The energy he brings to the role creates a character that is a third Jack Nicholson, a third Steve Martin (from the 1986 movie), and a third Elvis Presley. I already was well aware of Magill’s skills as a singer but he is has a manic comic energy that makes me want him to do more theatrical performances. Same with Regi Fowler, who is absolutely wonderful as Mushnik. He is incredibly funny and has an almost operatic voice at times.
Audrey II is a great villain and this man-eating plant is brought to life by David Barthiaume, who provides the motion, and Michael Barnhart, who provides the voice. This pair does an amazing job both on and off stage, one that makes the character transcend beyond mere puppet.
Which brings me to Tarkon and Rainwater, the leads of this show. Tarkon, making her TCT debut as Audrey, is truly great. Her performance is Audrey is as funny as it is heartbreaking at times. I hope to see her in more shows because she has immense talent. And as Seymour, Rainwater steps into the role he was absolutely born to play, providing, at least from my perspective, a career-best performance.
I also have to give Randall Powell, Giant Boykin, Corey McCurry, and Dan Spivey a special thumbs up for providing the music to the show. Everyone who worked on this show, on and off stage, truly put their blood, sweat, and tears into making this one killer show.
“Little Shop” is a gem of a show, one that has stood the test of time, be it the film or the stage version. It’s great that Tyler Civic Theatre made this show part of their season. In fact, this could very well be the best production of the current season. If ever there was a show to kick off Halloween weekend, this is it.
“Little Shop of Horrors” opens on Friday, October 27 and runs through Sunday, November 5. Tickets are available at the www.tylercivictheatre.com or call the box office at 903-592-0561.
March 24th: Time for Three in Concert at Cowan Center
On Stage This Month:
The Cowan Center is located at 3900 University Blvd. on the UT Tyler campus. Tickets are available at the box office, by calling (903)566-7424, or go to cowancenter.org. Upcoming productions are:
March 24th (7:30pm) – Time for Three will be presented at the Cowan Center. This trio is at home in Carnegie Hall, in famous night clubs, with symphony orchestras, at NFL games, on highly acclaimed albums, or in collaborations with artists from practically every genre of music. They are known for performances of Bach, Vivaldi and Mozart, mash-ups of hits by the Beatles, Justin Timberlake and more, plus a one-of-a-kind Orange Blossom Special.
April 3rd (7:30pm) – Kimberly Guilfoyle will be presented at the Cowan Center. Kimberly Guilfoyle joined FOX News Channel as a legal analyst in 2006, hosting the one-hour crime-based program, “The Lineup.” She currently co-hosts Fox’s primetime show “The Five.” Guilfoyle also appears as a legal and political analyst on “Hannity,” and is part of a rotating panel on “Outnumbered.” A Dinner and Post-Lecture Reception will be held, sponsored by Austin Bank. Tickets are $17-$37.
April 21st (7:30pm) – “The Wizard of Oz” will be presented at the Cowan Center. There truly is no place like home! The entire family will be captivated as they travel down the Yellow Brick Road and beyond with Dorothy, Toto, and their friends the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow in this lavish production, featuring breathtaking special effects, dazzling choreography, and classic songs. Tickets are $37-$72.
April 28th (7:30pm) – Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 will be presented at the Cowan Center. The East Texas Symphony will close their season with Beethoven’s monumental Symphony No. 9. The Orchestra will be joined by ETSO Chorus, UT Tyler Concert Chorale, and Patriot Singers, and a quartet of soloists. The concert also features the ETSO premieres of Handel’s Zadok the Priest and Brahms’ Nanie. It’s a grand evening of choral music ending the season on a high note.
May 10th (7:30pm) – The Celtic Women will be presented at the Cowan Center. This global phenomenon started on a winter Dublin night in 2004. The idea was conceived to create a musical ensemble featuring a selection of exceptional classically and traditionally trained Irish female musicians. Tickets are $42-$77.
Review: “The Lucky O’Leary’s” at Tyler Civic Theatre
On Stage: March 9th-11th, 15th-18th (Nightly at 7:30pm, Sundays at 2:30pm) at Tyler Civic Theatre is located at 400 Rose Park Dr., Tyler, next to the Tyler Rose Garden Center. For more info call (903)592-0561 or tylercivictheatre.com.
St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. Before you take in a celebration of green beer, green attire, and green…almost everything, take a trip to Tyler Civic Theatre, as they are bringing big laughs this St. Pattie’s Day with the comedy, “The Lucky O’Learys.”
Set in the New York apartment of Peg O’Leary (Vickie Tindale) and her son, Brian (Ryan Ormandy). Peg is an overprotective mother that often says the wrong word from time to time but everyone knows what she means. Since her husband Brian (Brad Echols) left three years prior, she has been focusing on Brian ending his brief 12-year break from Seminary and becoming a priest. Brian, however, is set on marrying his fiancée Amy (Kacy Combest). Peg is against the marriage, partly because she thinks Amy’s father, Frank (Stan King) is in the mafia.
Adding to her troubles, Peg finds out that her apartment building is going contra (her word for “condo”) and she is going to be kicked out. She asks her sister Rose (Rebecca Hill) for a $50,000 loan so she can try to buy the apartment. Rose, whose husband runs the corner newsstands, can’t lend her the money. So, she decides to call upon a miracle from St. Genevieve, the Patron Saint of Over Protective Mothers. With the local lottery set for a record $116 million jackpot, Peg decides to buy a ticket, or 5,000, and try to win the big fortune.
The only problem is, everyone is buying a ticket, from Peg to Brian to Frank to Monsignor Rafferty (Roger Pharr), who prayed to St. Michael to win so he can build a new health center. As everyone gathers for Peg’s birthday dinner, which is the same night as the lotto numbers are announced, someone will hit it big, the question is who?
“The Lucky O’Learys” was written by playwright and actor, Jim Brochu, best known for the plays “Cooking With Gus,” “The Last Session,” and his one-man show, “Zero Hour,” about the life of actor Zero Mostel. The play actually began as a TV pilot that Brochu has written for his friend, Lucille Ball, but unfortunately, her health prevented the project from moving forward as a series. The TCT production was directed by DeAnna Hargrove, who recently directed “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” and special guest director, Sarah Pharr, who has worked as stage manager for “Rock of Ages.” With a cast of veterans and newcomers to the Civic Theatre stage, they have assembled a wonderfully funny cast that will crack up the audience.
Making her return to the Civic Theatre for the first time since 1992, Tindall is delightful, bringing life to life a little bit of a mother I’m sure we’ve all had to one degree or another. Ormandy is great as Brian, selling the slightly exasperated but loving son very well. Combest, in her TCT debut, is wonderful and hopefully, we see her in future productions. As Rose, Hill is awesome as she also makes her debut on the Civic stage, and gets big laughs playing off almost everyone in the cast. As for our veteran cast members, Echols, King, and Pharr, it’s a tossup at times on who steals the show. Every single member of the cast does a great job and with this much talent treading the boards, the show is an absolute must see.
“The Lucky O’Learys” is a warm, funny comedy that you don’t have to be Irish, Italian or even “Costa Rican” to enjoy. Go see it and give yourself a good laugh.
Theatre Guide: March 15-18th, “The Lucky O’Learys” on Stage
Upcoming Events, Concerts & Plays
March 9th-11th, 15th-18th (Nightly at 7:30pm, Sundays at 2:30pm) – “The Lucky O’Learys” – This delightful new comedy by the author of “Cooking with Gus,” will appeal to a broad spectrum of audiences. A woman needs some ready cash right away because her apartment is about to be “condoed” – the hot new verb of the 80’s. As she believes she is going to win the big lottery, she withdraws her life savings to buy tickets. Meanwhile her husband, who left her three years before, arrives back home on her birthday, the day of the lottery drawing. The woman’s sister has also bought a lot of tickets. The husband has bought one for her and one for him. The women think the husband has won with his tickets, but it turns out, the reason he is flush is that he is now financially successful. Actually, one of the women just may have the winning ticket. Tyler Civic Theatre is located at 400 Rose Park Dr., Tyler, next to the Tyler Rose Garden Center. For more info call (903)592-0561 or tylercivictheatre.com.
March 24th (7:30pm) – East Texas Symphony Orchestra presents “Time for Three” at the Cowan Center. This trio of classically trained musicians performed with ETSO in 2015. During the concert, they will present a blend of classical favorites and mash-ups of music by artists such as Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, and The Beatles. The Cowan Center is located at 3900 University Blvd. on the UT Tyler campus. Tickets are available at the box office by calling (903)566-7424 or go to cowancenter.org.
April 3rd (7:30pm) – Kimberly Guilfoyle will be presented at the Cowan Center. Kimberly Guilfoyle joined FOX News Channel as a legal analyst in 2006, hosting the one-hour crime-based program, “The Lineup.” She currently co-hosts Fox’s primetime show “The Five” — a roundtable ensemble of FOX personalities who discuss, debate, and debunk news stories, controversies, and issues of the day. Guilfoyle also appears as a legal and political analyst on “Hannity,” and is part of a rotating panel on “Outnumbered.” Sales begin March 5th. A Dinner and Post-Lecture Reception will be held, sponsored by Austin Bank. Tickets are $17-$37. The Cowan Center is located at 3900 University Blvd. on the UTTyler campus. Tickets are available at the box office, by calling (903)566-7424, or go to cowancenter.org.
April 3rd-4th (9am), April 5th-8th (Nightly at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30pm) – “Screwtape” – Screwtape, a senior devil from hell, has delegated some authority to a junior fiend, Wormwood, whose assignment is to seize the soul of a very human and lovable young man. This might be called a devilish dramatic contest with high-level meaning thrashed out in terms of brilliant low-level comedy. The rather charming Wormwood is being critically supervised in this, his first case, by that extraordinary devil, Screwtape. Advice from this old hand from hell is devastatingly perceptive of human foibles and, despite the love of a wonderful young girl, our young man is in terrible danger. It’s really a close decision and, in a dazzling resolution, the audience learns something important about hell, heaven, religion, and humanity. Tyler Civic Theatre is located at 400 Rose Park Dr., Tyler, next to the Tyler Rose Garden Center. For more info call (903)592-0561 or go to tylercivictheatre.com.
April 9th (7:30pm) – East Texas Symphonic Band will be presented at The Belcher Performance Center. Belcher Performance Center at LeTourneau University is located at 2100 S. Mobberly, Longview. For more info call (903)233-3080 or go to belchercenter.com.
April 13th-15th and 20th-22nd (Nightly at 7:30pm, Sunday Matinee 2pm) – “Love, Loss & What I Wore” – This is a play of monologues and ensemble pieces about women, clothes, and memory covering all the important subjects: mothers, prom dresses, mothers, buying bras, mothers, hating purses, and why we only wear black. Based on the bestselling book by Ilene Beckerman. Lindale Community Theatre is located at 109 W. Hubbard St., Lindale, lindalecommunitytheater.org.
April 14th (7:30pm) – “The Passing Zone Saves the World” will be presented at The Belcher Performance Center. The Passing Zone has been wowing audiences for decades with hilarious, award-winning performances. They have been finalists on America’s Got Talent; they have performed at the White House, and they hold five Guinness World Records. Their combination of comedy, dexterity, danger, and hilarity has audiences on their feet all across the globe. Imagine a show without hatred, ignorance, and bigotry! Are they superheroes? Or are they just a couple of talented guys who will make you forget your troubles and laugh ‘til your face hurts? Either way, the world becomes a better place while these guys are on stage. Belcher Performance Center at LeTourneau University is located at 2100 S. Mobberly, Longview. For more info call (903)233-3080 or go to belchercenter.com.
May 19th (6pm) – “50th Anniversary Gala” will be presented by Tyler Civic Chorale. For more info go to tylercivicchorale.org or facebook.com/tylercivicchorale. Tickets are available through TCC members and at the door.
April 21st (7:30pm) – “The Wizard of Oz” will be presented at the Cowan Center. There truly is no place like home as the greatest family musical of all time, “The Wizard of Oz” twists its way into the Cowan Center! The entire family will be captivated as they travel down the Yellow Brick Road and beyond with Dorothy, Toto, and their friends the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow in this lavish production, featuring breathtaking special effects, dazzling choreography, and classic songs. Sales begin March 26th. Tickets are $37-$72. The Cowan Center is located at 3900 University Blvd. on the UT Tyler campus. Tickets are available at the box office, by calling (903)566-7424, or go to cowancenter.org.
April 21st (7:30pm) – “All That Jazz!” featuring Ning An on piano will be presented by the Longview Symphony Orchestra at The Belcher Performance Center. Belcher Performance Center at LeTourneau University is located at 2100 S. Mobberly, Longview. For more info call (903)233-3080 or go to belchercenter.com.
April 23rd (6:30pm) – “Dinosaur Zoo” will be presented at The Belcher Performance Center. Erth’s “Dinosaur Zoo Live” guides you on a breathtaking tour through prehistoric Australia. You’ll observe, meet and interact with an eye-popping collection of amazingly life-like dinosaurs and other creatures presented in a theatrical performance that will thrill and entertain kids while stimulating their imaginations in ways that will forever connect them to their world. Brought to life by a team of skilled performers and puppeteers, and designed with the help of professional paleontologists, Erth’s DINOSAUR ZOO LIVE’s puppets are so extraordinarily realistic you may feel the urge to run and hide – but don’t! While this fun, unique, entertaining, and educational live show created by Erth Visual & Physical of Sydney, Australia may have been 65 million years in the making, you’ll agree, it’s well worth the wait! Belcher Performance Center at LeTourneau University is located at 2100 S. Mobberly, Longview. For more info call (903)233-3080 or go to belchercenter.com.
April 28th (7:30pm) – East Texas Symphony Orchestra presents Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Choral, which includes the powerful “Ode to Joy” in the last movement. The orchestra will be joined by four soloists, the ETSO Chorus, and the combined UT Tyler Chorus and Patriot Singers. Cameron Rose, director of choirs at The University of Texas at Tyler, will direct the choruses. For more info or tickets go to etso.org or call (903)526-3876. Concerts are performed at the UT Tyler R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center. Concerts begin at 7:30pm.
May 4th-6th, 10th-13th (Nightly at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30 for a Mother’s Day Brunch) – “The Odd Couple” – This classic comedy opens as a group of the guys assemble for cards in the apartment of divorced Oscar Madison. And if the mess is any indication, it’s no wonder that his wife left him. Late to arrive is Felix Unger, who has just been separated from his wife. Fastidious, depressed, and none too tense, Felix seems suicidal, but as the action unfolds, Oscar becomes the one with murder on his mind when the clean freak and the slob ultimately decide to room together with hilarious results as “The Odd Couple” is born. The May 13th, Mother’s Day show offers an optional brunch. Tyler Civic Theatre is located at 400 Rose Park Dr., Tyler, next to the Tyler Rose Garden Center. For more info call (903)592-0561 or go to tylercivictheatre.com.
May 4th-6th, 11th-13th (Nightly at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30) – “The Miracle Worker” will be on stage at Henderson Civic Theater. “The Miracle Worker” is a three-act play by William Gibson adapted from his 1957 Playhouse 90 teleplay of the same name. It is based on Helen Keller’s autobiography, “The Story of My Life.” Henderson Civic Theater is located at 122 E. Main, Henderson. For more info call (903)657-2968 or go to hendersoncivictheatre.org.
May 10th (7:30pm) – The Celtic Women will be presented at the Cowan Center. They’ve sold more than ten million albums and three million tickets. Now, the global phenomenon known as Celtic Woman is set to embark on another world tour, which will include a stop in Tyler. It all started on a winter Dublin night in 2004. The idea was conceived to create a musical ensemble featuring a selection of exceptional classically and traditionally trained Irish female musicians. Sales begin April 9th. Tickets are $42-$77. The Cowan Center is located at 3900 University Blvd. on the UT Tyler campus. Tickets are available at the box office, by calling (903)566-7424, or go to cowancenter.org.
July 4th (4pm) – “Annual Independence Day Concert” will be presented by Tyler Civic Chorale at First Presbyterian Church, 230 W. Rusk St., Tyler. For more info go to tylercivicchorale.org or facebook.com/tylercivicchorale. Tickets are available through TCC members and at the door.
July 13th-15th, 20th-22nd (Nightly at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30) – “Charlotte’s Web” will be on stage at Henderson Civic Theater. All the enchanting characters from the book are here: Wilbur, the irresistible young pig who desperately wants to avoid the butcher; Fern, a girl who understands what animals say to each other; Templeton, the gluttonous rat who can occasionally be talked into a good deed; the Zuckerman family; the Arables; and, most of all, the extraordinary spider, Charlotte, who proves to be “a true friend and a good writer.” Henderson Civic Theater is located at 122 E. Main, Henderson. For more info call (903)657-2968 or go to hendersoncivictheatre.org.
EGuide Magazine’s Gig Guide
Date Night: From Fancy to Simple, Tyler Offers a Lot of Romance
March 24th – Tyler Azalea 10k, 5k, and Kids Run plus MORE!
Theatre Guide: March 15-18th, “The Lucky O’Learys” on Stage
The Apple Didn’t Fall Far From The Tree
March 24th: Save the Mayfair Fundraiser, Dinner & Live Music
“Playhouses on the Plaza” Downtown Tyler Through March 22nd
UT Tyler Graduate Student Exhibits Feature Steel, Wood Creations
DATE CHANGES!! April 2nd: Glass Rec. Center, Summer Camp Registration Open
The Skinny on Cooking at Home: The Cookbook Junkie
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