Theater: ‘Shop of Horrors’ highlights theater company’s 43rd year

Is it possible that a small exotic plant could take over the world? Broadway by the Bay explores that question with its 43rd season opener, “Little Shop of Horrors,” which runs April 3 through April 20 in San Mateo.

The musical, written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken and based on Roger Corman’s B-movie (Charles Griffith wrote the screenplay), opened off Broadway in 1982 and won a New York Drama Critics Circle Award.

The central figure is Seymour Krelbourn, a pathetic fellow who works in a Skid Row flower shop. When he discovers a mysterious, alluring plant that can sing, his world changes overnight.

Tyler Kent, who makes his Broadway by the Bay debut as Seymour, says of the character, “When I look at the journey he takes, from starting in an orphanage in Skid Row to achieving fame and fortune, it is a real challenge. There is a demand for sincerity and honesty, and Seymour is faced with difficult choices, including his own limitations.”

Sarah Aili, who plays Seymour’s co-worker Audrey, first saw the musical when she was in in middle school. She says, “What most intrigued me was that Audrey appears as an airhead without much depth in the beginning, but later grows to being a full-rounded, deep character who believes in her dreams.”

Director George Maguire became aware of the show when he passed by the Orpheum Theatre where it first played when he was a student at New York University. He says, “I was hooked, and so was everyone else. But I never would have guessed that one day I would have the opportunity to direct this remarkable piece of theater.”

As the company marks its 43rd year producing musicals on the Peninsula, Maguire also happens to be celebrating his 43rd year as an equity actor.

Performances are at the San Mateo Performing Arts Center, 600 N. Delaware St. Tickets are $17 to $45. Call (650) 579-5565 or visit www.broadwaybythebay.org.

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