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Suddenly, Seymour: A Dream Come True

edited October 2011 in Theater
Tonight (October 21, 2011) is opening night of "Little Shop of Horrors" at the historic Cocoa Village Playhouse, but it's also the day that a dream of mine will be coming true. I'm playing the role of Seymour in this limited two weekend run. My intention was to blog about it as I went, but the challenges and time this show/role have consumed has been insane. So, I will just start with that I remember watching the movie, and absolutely loving it as a kid, BUT it was when I got my hands on the LP of the original cast recording that I REALLY fell in love with the material. Lee Wilkof's amazing vocals made me yearn to sing these songs one day, but it was always just a "wouldn't that be nice" dream, never thinking it would actually happen. Now, normally, as an actor I tend to go after the more outlandish character roles, so when auditions came around most people assumed I would be going after Orin, but no, my heart was set on the guy who doesn't "steal the show". There is just something about Seymour that touches the heart. It could be the down on his luck guy with low self esteem who dreams of a better life, or the regret we all have felt when we've sold a little of our soul to the devil, for whatever reason, we all have a little bit of Seymour in us. On top of the show itself, tonight marks another momentous occasion for me personally, the chance to perform the work of Howard Ashman. (I've already done one Menken show, A Christmas Carol as the Ghost of Christmas Past). A hero and an inspiration to me from a very young age...there are no words to describe how humble I feel to be presenting his art to a new set of audiences, many of whom this will be their first time experiencing Little Shop. To play a small part in keeping Howard's creation alive is something I feel incredibly honored by. Everytime I sing one of his lyrics, it just fills me with joy. I made a HUGE effort to follow pretty much all of Howard's suggestions and direction in the script. A lot of times, I am one of those actors guilty of just running off with something, but in this case, I really wanted to make sure that I captured the heart of Little Shop and stay close to Howard's vision. The shows director and other actors did much of the same, and I am very proud of the final product.

(photo from a local newspaper...we have a photographer coming to the show tomorrow to take pics, so I will share those soon)

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I look forward to updating this thread soon with more thoughts/info/photos etc. If anyone has any questions about anything, please feel free to ask and I'll attempt an intelligent response. :-)

~ Benjamin Cox (Benya)

Comments

  • Oh, silly me...forgot to post a link the theatre's website...

    http://www.cocoavillageplayhouse.com/
  • Benya, So glad you posted this. I wasn't familiar with the Cocoa Village Playhouse but they sure have an ambitious lineup. Do you work there often? Thanks again for posting. BTW, what did you use as an audition song? Also, your most challenging moment in the script?
  • Hi Sarah,

    I've done many shows at this theatre. The production quality they have rivals some of the Broadway tours I've seen. Some of my favorite parts/shows have been Che in EVITA, El Gallo in THE FANTASTICKS, and Toby in SWEENEY TODD.

    My audition song was "Santa Fe" from NEWSIES. It lent itself very well to being very Seymour-ish. I would definitely recommend it as an audition piece to anyone trying out for the role. The director gave me a note on how good the song choice was.

    As far as the most challenging moment with the script...I'd actually say it was one of the easiest scripts to translate, because Howard had everything so clearly laid out. Which is VERY rare. The most challenging stuff for me was all the re-acting. I had no idea how much work Seymour has to put in to reacting to the other characters. It's very easy to get locked into doing the same exasperated look, or to be too big and draw attention from where it needs to be. It was tricky finding that fine line throughout the show and making sure I didn't slip into either a dull cardboard cutout or the complete opposite, a campy caricature performance. I felt the more real Seymour was, the contrast to the plant or the dentist helped make the scene more dynamic.

    Opening week has been great. We start our final weekend tomorrow night. (the couple days off have been nice since I am fighting a cold now too) The audiences response has been amazing. Standing ovations after every performance. :-)

    Here is another photo of yours truly, with littlest Twoey right at the end of "Da Doo". I like to caption this pic "Just a down on his luck schmuck from Skid Row with big dreams in his eyes" LOL

    image
  • Ok, I have something else to share while I'm going through the photos from the show to post later...

    There are moments in life, and then there are MOMENTS in life!!! I will forever cherish this one, when at the final show of Little Shop, there were kids trick or treating in the village outside the theatre, and I got to meet this young kid, Judah, who saw the show the week before and decided he wanted to be me/Seymour for Halloween. So he got his mother and brother to help him with the costume and they stopped by to visit me after the show to get a picture of us both in costume. (You can't really see it in the picture, but he even had little bandaids on his fingers!!!)

    image

    ...A reminder of why we do what we do in any field of life. Because once upon a time, I was this little guy, seeing "Little Shop" for the first time and getting completely inspired. The humble feeling I got from meeting this child, and seeing the joy in his eyes, gave me this feeling of full circleness that I can't even describe.

    I'd also like to share my little bio that was in the program here for everyone as well

    SEYMOUR – Benjamin Cox
    Benjamin was most recently seen at CVP in the role of the leprechaun, Og in FINIAN’S RAINBOW. Other shows include EVITA (Che), SWEENEY TODD (Tobias), THE FANTASTICKS (El Gallo) and more. Benjamin dedicates this performance to the late Howard Ashman (1950 - 1991). “Thank you Howard, for being an inspiration and a hero to me. It is an honor to be performing your work for this audience and playing some small part in keeping your art alive.” He would like to thank Staci, Pam, Bob, Jeanie, Johnathan, the cast and crew, especially Rene! “Síorghra"

    I had no idea when I wrote that, just how true it was...don't it go to show, ya never know :-)



  • Wow, Benjamin. Thank you for remembering Howard in your dedication. I absolutely love that kid's costume.
  • I like your costume, too, btw.
  • So, as a tradition, I usually do a special poster that is only given to the cast and crew of each show just for fun (not used for advertisement) featuring a cast photo. I thought I should share this 1960's B horror inspired poster, using some photos of the CVP cast and the artwork/logo from the Broadway revival...

    image
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