Binge Fringe Magazine

INTERVIEW: A Digital Pint with… Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group, Putting a New Spin on ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ in 2024

Little Shop of Horrors will open with a new twist in Edinburgh next week, as the city’s University Savoy Opera Group have come for a visit to the Binge Fringe Virtual Pub to tell us. Today we’re joined by the show’s co-Directors, Tom Beazley and Amy Stinton, as well as by the show’s Producer Mathilde Duché and Actor Allison Lavercombe, who plays Audrey in the upcoming run.

You can catch Little Shop of Horrors at the Church Hill Theatre in Edinburgh from January 23rd to the 27th at 19:00. Tickets are available online here.

Jake: Hey team! We last caught up with you ahead of your run of A Chorus Line at EdFringe 2023 – tell us what the society has been up to since then.

Mathilde: We have been working on Little Shop of Horrors, a wonderful horror/comedy musical by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, which is currently a hit off-Broadway and we hope will be in Edinburgh as well!

Tom & Amy: Little Shop of Horrors is a dream musical for many in our production team, so we were super excited to propose it to EUSOG. The show is incredibly collaborative as it has exciting creative opportunities for the cast, production team and the crew. We wanted to do a show that would first and foremost be something that we would enjoy spending so much time working on, which Little Shop of Horrors absolutely has been!

Jake: Now you’re taking on Little Shop of Horrors, and you’re keen for our readers to know that even though it’s a well-known story, it has a critique of capitalism at its’ core. Tell us a little what you mean by that.

Tom & Amy:  One thing we wanted to highlight by the end of the show, is that no matter the choices the characters make throughout the story, they are all pulled in and consumed by capitalism. We have some characters like Seymour who are swept up in the appeal of fortune and fame, and some like Audrey who try to be cautious and resist it, but ultimately all of them have the same fate.

Mathilde: When you think of Little Shop, you think of a comedic, camp musical, when really it has a lot more to say. The last song –‘Don’t Feed the Plants’- warns people not to buy into promises of wealth in exchange for their moral values. It is interesting to see that 42 years later, the message is still relevant to today’s politicians, corporate leaders, and the wider society…

Jake: How has the process of considering that critique while still making an enjoyable spectacle of musical theatre been?

Mathilde: It is definitely eye-opening and makes you take a more serious approach to what is originally thought of as an innocent, funny show. However, it ends up being all the more rewarding in the process since it brings about a much deeper meaning and complexity in the characters and dilemma that the show is posing. The creative team have loved working with both cast and crew in an attempt to highlight those complexities and how to materialise them, whether that be through acting or by symbolism within set, lighting and costume.

Jake: Tell us a little about how you’re looking to ‘reimagine’ characters, and what the audience can expect whether they’ve seen the show elsewhere before or not.

Allison: The reimagining of some characters not only personifies Audrey II, the scary man-eating plant, in the most creatively terrifying way ever, but the addition of an ensemble adds real depth and breadth to the performance. I also hope that a more serious portrayal of Audrey will, particularly through the exploration of her relationship with both Seymour and Orin, make her story more engaging for audiences. I think that the result of this will be that the audiences’ attachment to Seymour and Audrey and their love story will increase tenfold, and as a result, their hate of Audrey II and Orin will be amplified. Hopefully, this will make the audience far more invested in the characters and their outcomes, and will allow them to really get lost in Audrey and Seymour’s world.

Mathilde: I also think it is very important to question why people are attached to the original portrayal of Audrey and why it would be difficult for them to let it go. When you look at it, Audrey is a butt of the joke for wanting a better life for herself, out of poverty and abuse. It is very telling that we, as an audience, are used to laughing at such serious matters presented in a comedic light without second guessing ourselves. We hope the audience can appreciate this new take and Audrey’s character in all her complexity as opposed to her simply being comedic relief.

Jake: Given the themes of Binge Fringe, if your show was a beverage of any kind (alcoholic, non-alcoholic – be as creative as you like!), what would it be and why?

Mathilde: It would either be a Bloody Mary (for obvious reasons) or a Passion Fruit Margarita, to highlight both the sweet and sour notes and the intricacies of the story and characters!

Tickets are available online here.

Image Credit: Andrew Perry, shows Allison Lavercombe as Audrey.

Jake Mace

Our Lead Editor & Edinburgh Editor. Jake loves putting together reviews that try to heat-seek the essence of everything they watch. They are interested in New Writing, Literary Adaptations, Musicals, Cabaret, and Stand-Up. Jake aims to cover themes like Class, Nationality, Identity, Queerness, and AI/Automation.

Festivals: EdFringe (2018-2023), Brighton Fringe (2019), Paris Fringe (2020), VAULT Festival (2023), Prague Fringe (2023-24), Dundee Fringe (2023)
Pronouns: They/Them