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'Horrors' story

Never trust a plant to arrange your romantic affairs -- especially if said plant has an odd nutritional requirement: human blood.

Such might be the moral of "Little Shop of Horrors," the musical that will arrive at Shea's Performing Arts Center on Tuesday night in an eight-performance engagement through April 2.

The current production, directed by Jerry Zaks and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall, opened on Broadway to accolades in 2003 and is now on national tour. The Buffalo presentation will feature the same monstrous plant/puppet -- a kind of bloodthirsty orchid with a witty tongue and a superinflated ego -- designed by the Jim Henson Workshop and Martin P. Robinson. Robinson was the person responsible for the outsized predatory plant that terrorized the original 1982 off-Broadway production at the WPA Theatre.

Jim Poulos will play Seymour Krelbourn, the mild-mannered florist who enlists the then-tiny plant to assist in his effort to win the heart of Audrey, played by Liz Pearce. The voice of the plant -- named Audrey II -- will be provided by Michael James Leslie.

It's worth noting that the music is by Alan Menken, the composer of such popular hits as "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin." Lyrics and book are by the late Howard Ashman. Among the songs are such appealing numbers as "Somewhere That's Green," "Suddenly Seymour" and, of course, "Little Shop of Horrors."

Some people claim that one should talk to one's plants. Well, maybe -- if your plants happen to be affable African violets, passive philodendrons and drowsy dracaena. However, it's best to go mum if any tip the conversation toward human blood and world domination.
"Little Shop of Horrors" runs Tuesday through April 2 in Shea's Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St. Tickets cost $22.50 to $55 and are available at 852-5000 or online at www.ticketmaster.com.
-- Richard Huntington

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