Caitlin Howle

Caitlin Howle, Trinity Rep’s digital marketing coordinator, recently sat down with Jude Sandy, who plays Seymour, and Rebecca Gibel, who plays Audrey, in our upcoming production of
Little Shop of Horrors to talk about the show, the music, and the two reuniting for the production.

Caitlin Howle: Let’s talk shop — Little Shop that is. Can you both tell about your past experiences with Little Shop of Horrors? What was your first interaction with the production?

Rebecca Gibel: I’ve never performed in it except in my shower! But for children of the ’80s, there’s that movie you watch so much you wear out the VHS tape? Little Shop of Horrors was that for me.

Jude Sandy: My first real encounter was when I assistant directed it with Amanda Dehnert, (former interim Trinity Rep artistic director) at Cleveland Play House in 2015. She turned the female chorus into a five-piece all-girl rock band! The whole show was a thrill.

Rebecca Gibel
Jude Sandy

CH: I feel like this is a show where we can really get behind the characters. How do you feel about Seymour and Audrey? What do you feel their motivations are in this show?

JS: I feel a lot of solidarity with Seymour, and I have a lot of affection for him and Audrey as a pair.  They’re the outsiders. They’re misfits, an experience I know too well. They’re the people that the world doesn’t really want. These two people who just want to be loved and just want to be seen and validated. And they finally get that validation, but in the most deceiving circumstances, in this whirlwind of fleeting success and celebrity before disaster hits.

RG: In my 16-year-old fantasy, I would just love to be Ellen Greene as Audrey, who played her off-Broadway and in the film. She so stamped that role for me. My feelings about Audrey are so steeped in my teenage feelings about Greene’s interpretation. I can’t wait to get inside and start poking around and figuring out what my Audrey’s appetite is ! (Pun mostly intended…)

CH: I’m excited to meet her, too. Why do you think Little Shop of Horrors speaks to an audience in 2019? How can we relate to what started out as campy sci-fi?

JS: We’re often taught to look for something to save us and for me, the story is so much about how easily people can be enticed into giving away their souls for the sake of the thing they dream will rescue them or the thing they think will make life better. What if the thing that will make life better has been in front of you all along, right? What if Audrey and Seymour had found each other before fame and money seduced them? And I love the campy sci-fi and the music because It’s what makes the ride so incredibly delicious, and before you know it, all hell breaks loose.

CH: Do you see that in the show?

JS: Absolutely. If Audrey and Seymour actually just could break through whatever barriers exist to their seeing each other for who they are and appreciating each other and knowing how perfect they are for each other from the get-go, then they probably would have not been beguiled into destruction.

RG: I think there’s something parallel and juicy about how we’re living in this age when social media and politics and self and community are all slamming into each other, and then becoming monstrous because of how we want to project ourselves to our audience — we all have an audience now. And that’s what happens to Seymour, that’s part of what he gets enticed by with this whole layer of fame and projection of self. He wants the life that he sees projected around him.

JS: We all do, right? We’re the ones who feed this kind of obsession with fame, with image, and I think that’s what the characters of this show do, too. We allow ourselves to be captivated by glamor and surface and we don’t take the time to think through the more difficult, thorny realities of our lives, our relationships, our social responsibility, our needs as human beings, and how those needs are true for others. We see all the characters in Little Shop of Horrors struggling to find their foothold in the world, to succeed, to be happy, and that’s something we can all relate to.

CH: How do you feel walking into such a powerhouse of a musical? Are you excited about the music and the songs?

JS: There’s not a single role in this musical that I didn’t wish I could play since the music is just phenomenal. It’s really accessible, you can sing along to it, and just be swept away by the drive and the melody of it. There’s also this yearning and heartache in the music, too. It’s full of meaning.

RG: The thing that I love is that all the songs drive the plot forward. You can’t pull those songs out — any of them!

CH: And last, but not least, we last saw you both in last season’s production of Othello — how do you both feel about reuniting for this production?

RG: I can’t wait! My favorite thing ever is to work with Jude, I love it.

JS: I’m completely over the moon, too. Audrey’s a character I’ve always dreamed to see Becky play. Can anyone forget her Ado Annie?! I almost can’t believe I get to hold her hand again and take this wild ride with her. It’s wonderful to be back together.

Jude and Rebecca have sung about their love for one another before, as Will Parker and Ado Annie in Trinity Rep’s 2016 production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, directed by Richard and Sharon Jenkins. Photo by Mark Turek.

Little Shop of Horrors runs April 11 – May 12 in the Chace Theater.