BWW INTERVIEWS: Mark Willet Talks LITTLE SHOPS OF HORRORS at the LOT and Working With Friends
The Lower Ossington Theater is known for its stripped down productions of iconic shows. The LOT's productions include RENT, AVENUE Q, NEXT TO NORMAL, and most recently SHREK THE MUSICAL. Right now, the LOT is gearing up for a production of LITTLE SHOPS OF HORRORS.
LITTLE SHOPS OF HORRORS tells the story about a down on his luck shopkeeper and his singing plant. This production of the show reunites NEXT TO NORMAL leads, Mark Willet and Kylie McMahon, who respectively play Seymour and Audrey.
Willet took the time to speak with BroadwayWorld over the phone to talk about the iconic status of LITTLE SHOPS OF HORRORS, what it's like working at the LOT again, and how it feels to reunite with his close friends.
BWW: What was the rehearsal process like? How did you get into character?
WILLET: It [went] quickly, we have a short rehearsal process for the show so there [wasn't] a lot of time to not try. You just [had] to commit [to] see what works and what doesn't. It [was] great watching everyone find their character and to start working on Seymour as well.
BWW: What makes Seymour different from the other characters you've played in shows at the LOT?
WILLET: Seymour's probably one of the quieter characters I've played, especially. I [recently played] Donkey and Riff Raff, the only [quiet] character I've played before was Dan in NEXT TO NORMAL. Seymour's more battered and down by life, he's this weird mix of Dan and Riff Raff because he's very quiet, then he does some not nice things [but] you still kind of love him. He's a sweetheart and I haven't played many sweethearts.
BWW: You've mentioned playing Dan in NEXT TO NORMAL, and Kylie McMahon who played Diana opposite you is now playing Audrey in LITTLE SHOPS OF HORRORS. Is it comforting going into a show with someone who've you've already created that relationship and that creative bond with?
WILLET: It was funny, during the auditions we had to sing "Suddenly Seymour" with each other and I looked in her eyes, and I started to think of the moment of "Why Stay/A Promise." All I could think was, don't cry, don't cry, this song isn't that sad. I'm so used to looking in Kylie's eyes and being in that state of, I can break at any moment [and] she can break. At first, there was an adjustment [to being] Seymour and Audrey. They are a share happier than Diana and Dan. It is nice knowing there is someone I can go to great distance with and feel comfortable [with]. It's been nice having her around, I love her.
BWW: Is it difficult to make the transtion from one character to the next because you guys do so many shows at the LOT in one year?
WILLET: Sometimes when you're rehearsing multiple [shows, [but] this one hasn't been so bad. I played Riff Raff last year, so doing Riff Raff and Seymour at the same time [this year] hasn't been confusing. When I was in between rehearsals for Dan and Donkey, I didn't know what to do with myself. I got into the physicality of Donkey having hooves and then I'd be walking around [as Dan] and be like, Dan doesn't have hooves. I had these claw hands that were hooves but weren't hooves. It wasn't so much my voice, but my physicality.
BWW: What were your inspirations going into the show?
WILLET: I'm an inch in height difference from Rick Moranis. Every time I see a lead character who's short I get excited because it's not something I get to try often. It's not an experience I've had recently so its been interesting having the stamina on stage. I love Hunter Foster and he played him in the revival. He's someone vocally I look up to.
BWW: Did you watch his performance to see how you you could interpret Seymour in your own way?
WILLET: I've watched it. I've had the poster on my wall since I was in college, so I've been very excited. I've watched the movie, [but] I don't base what I do off of Rick Moranis. I'm not Rick Moranis, I'm not Hunter Foster, but I love their energy's. I look at how they conduct themselves.