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BWW Interviews: Down on Crossville's Skid Row - All the scoop on LITTLE SHOP's Urchins

While Little Shop of Horrors' Audrey II continues to rampage and rip up the Adventure Theatre at Crossville's Cumberland County Playhouse (the show runs through August 6), with Greg Pendzick, Lindy Pendzick, Jason Ross, Daniel W. Black and an all-star cast lending their estimable talents to the tale of murder, mirth and mayhem in the flower shop that figures prominently in the Alan Menken/Howard Ashman musical.

But outside the intimate, if downtrodden, confines of Mushnik's Skid Row Florists, out on Skid Row itself, audiences will find a trio of "urchins," who serve as a Greek chorus of sorts, helping them to navigate the outrageous landscape that plays home to Little Shop of Horrors. Chiffon, Ronette and Crystal, so named to recall the legendary girl groups whose records filled  pop music charts in the 1960s, are given some of the musical's best songs (written by Menken to evoke early '60s rock and roll, do-wop and girl group greatness) and in nearly every production of Little Shop, the three actresses playing the urchins have been given countless opportunities to steal the show.

Now that CCP's trio of actress playing the urchins - Leila Nelson, JoAnn Coleman and Ali Gritz - have been given the chance to put their own unique spins on their roles, we dragged them away from rehearsals (or was it a performance?) to give us their take on the whole Little Shop experience in Crossville.

Leila Nelson

Who do you play?
I play Chiffon and I also choreographed the show!

What's the most fun about doing Little Shop
I grew up watching nothing but musicals and Little Shop has always been one of my favorites! I'm so excited to not only be in the show, but that I could choreograph a show that inspired me so much as a little girl!

What's your favorite song from the score?
Well the title song is the most popular as well as catchiest song, but I've always had a soft spot for "Suddenly, Seymour." It's so sweet!

Who's your favorite 1960s girl group?
I have so many! The Shirelles, The Chiffons, The Shangri-Las and The Exciters.

What's next for you this season?
I am currently in rehearsals for Oklahoma! I am playing Ado Annie and I am also the choreographer. After Oklahoma! opens, I will be working on Chicago.

If you could do any show and/or role what would it be?
Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun

If you had to pick one character in Little Shop to date, who would it be? Seymour? The Dentist? Mr. Mushnik?
My answer would be that I would date any and all of Jason Ross' characters!

JoAnn Coleman

Who do you play?
Ronette

What's the most fun about doing Little Shop?
I love girl groups, and the idea of actually being in one and getting to sing those cool songs! And all the great people I work with of course!

What's your favorite song from the score?
My favorite is "Downtown," hands down.

Who's your favorite girl group?
The Chiffons. "Sweet Talkin' Guy" and "One Fine Day," that's my stuff!

What's next for you this season?
Next for me is Oklahoma!, Chicago and Dreamgirls.

If you could do any show and/or role what would it be - and why?
I would LOVE to be Maria or Anita in West Side Story. It was my first taste of musical theatre, and it really sticks with me and speaks to me. Also Aida! That one is on the bucket list.

If you had to pick one character in Little Shop to date, who would it be? Seymour? The Dentist? Mr. Mushnik? And, for god's sake, why?
I think I'd have to pick the dentist! Yeah, that's right, the dentist. Only so I'd have the chance to give him some of his own medicine!

Ali Gritz

Who do you play?
I play Crystal in the show.

What's the most fun about doing Little Shop?
I think that the most fun part of performing Little Shop is being able to sing the music. The band is rockin' and the harmonies are difficult and delightful!

What's your favorite song from the score?
My favorite song in the show is "Skid Row." The song is gritty and raw and still manages to have moments of comedy. The choreography is brilliant as well. It truly shows the audience the upbringing and current condition of all of the characters.

Who's your favorite girl group?
The Supremes.

What's next for you this season?
The next show I'm in is Oklahoma!, playing Dream Laurey and I'm in the ensemble. After that I will be playing Roxy Hart in Chicago.

If you could do any show and/or role what would it be - and why?
One of my dream roles has always been to play Roxy in Chicago, so I feel beyond blessed that I will have the opportunity to play that role this season at CCP! Another one of my dream roles is Little Red in Into The Woods. Stephen Sondheim is one of my favorite composers and I love the storyline!

If you had to pick one character in Little Shop to date, who would it be? Seymour? The Dentist? Mr. Mushnik?
If I had to date one of the characters it would be Seymour... if I had to! But, seriously, he is such a sweet guy with his heart in the right place. He would be my frontrunner. 

 



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From This Author Jeffrey Ellis