Sierra Stages’ “Little Shop of Horrors” is a “must see” show this summer

If you’re looking for a break from sobering TV and newspaper headlines and surreal national politics, go see Sierra Stages’ presentation of “Little Shop of Horrors” at the Nevada Theatre in Nevada City for some comic relief. It is funny, sweet, melodic and carries a cautionary tale (“Don’t feed the plant”). And the voice of the Audrey 2 — “FEED ME”! — is sure to make you laugh out loud.

Sierra Stages produces musicals and plays using strong local talent, including live orchestras for its musicals. It has received 53 prestigious Elly Award nominations in its first seven season. The performing arts nonprofit has presented or co-presented 28 productions at the Nevada Theatre and Miners Foundry in Nevada City or The Center for the Arts or Off Center Stage in Grass Valley, including “Into the Woods,” “The Music Man,” “Avenue Q,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Peter Pan” and “The Producers.”

The current production “Little Shop of Horrors” is a cult classic that has entertained theater goers for over 30 years. It plays now through August 6 at the Nevada Theatre on Thursdays at 7 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.

Howard Ashman and Alan Menken (Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Aladdin”) are the creative talent behind what has become one of the world’s most popular shows. The musical is based on the low-budget 1960 black comedy film “The Little Shop of Horrors,” directed by Roger Corman. We’ve enjoyed the movie, as well as the musical, and saw it again this summer on an outdoor screen with our neighbors — an ideal venue for a cult movie like this.

The musical premiered Off-Off Broadway in 1982 before moving Off-Broadway, where it had a five-year run. It later received numerous productions in the U.S. and abroad and a subsequent Broadway production.

Sierra Stages explains the show’s plot: “A down-and-out floral assistant who longs to get the girl of his dreams and escape life on skid row becomes an overnight sensation when he discovers an exotic plant with a mysterious craving that offers him fame and fortune in exchange for feeding its growing appetite.” The plant, just so you’re prepared, flourishes by eating human blood — at first a few drops from floral assistant Seymour’s pricked finger.

Local Cast

“Little Shop of Horrors” features a cast of nine Nevada County actors, 12 Nevada County musicians — and one very large plant named Audrey II. The show is directed by Robert Rossman, musical direction by Ken Getz, set and lighting by Erin Beaty and custome design by Jill Kelly.

The cast includes Tracie Nickle (Audrey), Jay Barker (Seymour), Ken Miele (Mushnik), Nancy Haffey (Chiffon), Jackie Kolenko (Ronnette), Kim Wellman (Crystal), Audrey Morgan Delgado (Audrey II Manipulation), JR Lewis (Voice of Audrey II, Derelict), and Conor Nolan (Orin, Bernstein, Snip, Luce and others).

Nickle shows so much vulnerability that she breaks your heart. Nolan is diabolical as Audrey’s sadistic dentist boyfriend Orin Scrivello, D.D.S. — to such a degree that we don’t cringe too much when he’s the first one who is fed to Audrey 2.

The vocals are outstanding, with well-known tunes such as “Skid Row (Downtown)”, “Somewhere That’s Green”, and “Suddenly, Seymour”.

Audrey Delgado shows off superb puppet skills as Audrey II (their names are a funny coincidence). She has tinkered with puppets since her years at university and always loved to manipulate creations using her whole body, according to the program. JR Lewis is the voice of Audrey II and makes the show shine with his “FEED ME”! routine.

The imaginative set for the show was constructed on the stage of the Colfax Performing Arts Center of Colfax High School. Students assisted with building and painting of the set. For its part, the Nevada Theatre has been renovated, which includes new backstage space for the orchestra. It is California’s oldest theater. Nevada City was hopping this past weekend, with locals and visitors alike.

“This one clearly falls in the category of ‘entertaining’ show, but we hope you don’t ignore the underlying ‘meaningful’ message and, whatever you do, don’t feed the plants,” sums up the program. For tickets and more information, visit

(Photo: David Wong)

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