Q&A: Anton Stephans and Matthew Heywood on Little Shop of Horrors

Hull Truck Theatre are excited to welcome audiences to their brand-new production of Little Shop of Horrors (Wednesday 22 May – Saturday 8 June). Presented in partnership with New Wolsey Theatre, Theatre by the Lake and Octagon Theatre Bolton.

Pamela Raith Photography

Downtown on Skid Row, weedy flower shop assistant Seymour is down on his luck until he stumbles across a mysterious new plant with killer potential. Fame and fortune follow but will this win the attention of the girl of his dreams, or will the insatiable appetite of his carnivorous plant get out of control? Audiences are invited to feed the need for musical hilarity in this sci-fi 1980s cult classic.

Hull Truck Theatre caught up with the actors who will bring Audrey II, the mean green monster from out of space, to life, live on stage later this month. Should audiences be excited, scared or both? Find out more as Anton Stephans (voice) and Matthew Heywood (puppeteer) share their process in creating this devilishly delicious character.

Should audiences be excited about seeing Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors?

Matthew: Yes of course they should! The show is beautifully bonkers, and you won’t get a night out like this again any time soon!

How many different sized Audrey II plants are there (or is it a secret!)?

Anton: I can say from the moment the plant arrives it has an agenda and things change radically for everyone who meets it.

Matthew: The plant grows all the way through the first act, from a seedling, to teenager, to being as tall as Seymour. When we get to Act II, Audrey II has grown to over six feet tall! The plant wants food, and it uses as many tactics as it can to get it.

How have you both worked together with movement and voice to create the character?

Anton: It was extremely important from the very beginning that the relationship between the voice of Audrey ll and the puppeteer be a symbiotic relationship. This took a lot of time and great effort on both sides. Both of us watching, listening, and talking to each other about how we can make our dreams of Audrey II become realistic and fun for audiences to watch.

Matthew: It started very separately, as Anton was working with the music team on vocals and myself on puppets. Initially it was a lot of me listening to Anton’s choices and feeding those into my movement. As we went on, we discussed ideas for some very specific moments and pauses. And since opening have kept this dialogue open after getting live feedback for what works and doesn’t. I love that Anton has the freedom to keep playing vocally and that we are so tuned into each other that we will follow what each other are doing.

How has it been working the various puppets of Audrey II?

Matthew: The first couple of puppets are cute, and fun to play with. The mechanics and what they need to do are simple movements as the plant is in infancy and only just learning how to move. As they get bigger, they become more complex. It took several weeks to build up the strength and stamina to find the full capabilities of each of the bigger puppets.

How would you describe the character of Audrey II?

Anton: Charismatic, petulant, persuasive, funny, soulful, intelligent, determined and of course, MAGICAL. 

Are there any unusual fly trap plant facts that helped to create Audrey II?

Matthew: Fly traps are incredibly clever and will wait to let creatures like spiders feel comfortable to land on them time and again before they capture them. Audrey II is a driven, sassy, playful, scheming, manipulative, genius.

Finally, is there a lesson to learn from watching Little Shop of Horrors?

Anton: What we all learn is that all that glitters isn’t gold. Some promises made arrive attached to a catch! Fame, fortune and even love come at a cost. How much are you willing to pay and do for all three?

Matthew: Don’t feed the plants…😉

Tickets for Little Shop of Horrors are now on sale and available to buy online and via Hull Truck Theatre’s Box Office. Access Performances include Captioned, Baby Friendly, Integrated BSL, Relaxed, Touch Tour and Audio Described. Recommended age guidance is 11+.

For more information, please visit www.hulltruck.co.uk