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Buyer beware: Little Shop of Horrors…

Heather Wallace

Roses are red

Violets are blue

This plant likes blood

And it’s going to eat YOU

What could be more romantic than naming a new plant species after your one true love? Sure the plant might turn out to be talking, blood thirsty carnivore, but hey, it’s the thought that counts.

That’s the dilemma meek and mild florist Seymour faces in Little Shop of Horrors, playing at the Canberra Theatre from 25 to 29 May. Hopelessly in love with fellow shop assistant Audrey, he dreams of escaping obscurity by winning fame and fortune. His dream comes true as the public flocks to see a strange new plant he discovers, but when Audrey II grows bigger and bigger and starts demanding fresh human blood, life becomes a nightmare. Not content with the bullying shop owner and sadistic dentist Seymour feeds it, Audrey II soon wants to get its tentacles on the original Audrey and maybe even the whole world…

Little shop 123

If you like your comedies dark and musical, this is for you. I talked to Esther Hannaford about playing shop assistant Audrey and what it’s like performing opposite a giant plant.

“I love that Audrey sees the best in everyone,” Esther tells me. “She has had a hard life, but she’s still so generous and kind even when things seem bleak.”

If you know the story from the 1986 film starring Rick Moranis and Steve Martin, you might not know just how dark the stage version is. Esther isn’t giving anything away, but does say fans of the film might get a surprise. “Audiences have been responding well throughout the tour, one minute they’re laughing and the next you hear them gasping.”

Brent Hill12345

I’m fascinated with Audrey II, who grows during the production from a seedling into a four metre foul-mouthed, R&B singing monster. “It takes five technicians to operate Audrey II,” Esther explains. “The joy is that it is live, not CGI, it’s right there with you. Sometime I give it a pat, I want it to be nice to me.”

When I ask Esther if she ever feels upstaged by her plant costar she laughs. “Well I have also worked with a certain Mr King Kong, so Audrey II is A LOT smaller. The puppet certainly stands out though, in the production it’s godlike, as well as being very persuasive and charming.”


Set in the 1960s the musical score features doo-wop and R&B, and the production has an intriguing way of going from black and white to technicolor, live on stage. The show has been touring since mid-January and a new show has just been added to the Canberra schedule. A matinee and afternoon show on Sunday 29 May rounds out the tour here. Opening night, Wednesday 25 May, also includes a special HerCanberra Click + Connect event, where you can meet new friends for drinks, nibbles and theatre chat. Buy your ticket below! They’re only on sale until Wednesday 18 May.

So has touring with a carnivorous plant had a lasting effect? Esther assures me seeing the carnage Audrey II wreaks on a nightly basis hasn’t turned her off going to florists. Although after seeing Audrey II for yourself, you might not be so willing to stop and smell the roses…

the essentials

What: Little a Shop of Horrors
Where: Canberra Theatre Centre
When: 25 to 29 May 2016
Purchase tickets to HerCanberra’s Click + Connect event here:
General tickets and more information here:

All images by Jeff Busby, supplied by Canberra Theatre Centre


Heather Wallace

Heather’s career in arts and heritage PR spans 15 years, with highlights including working for Sean Connery at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and promoting Australia’s World Heritage places. Her blog, Myths and Misadventures, (, is about life lessons we can learn from the Romans. You can follow her on Twitter @Missmythology. More about the Author

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