A Behind The Scenes Look at Audrey II
August 25, 2016
Rehearsals for Little Shop of Horrors began last week, but for the last six weeks our props department has been creating Audrey II, the beloved blood-thirsty plant puppet – or four puppets, to be exact. Here's a behind the scenes look at what it takes to bring this plant to life.
After receiving the design drawing from Scenic Designer Michael Schweikardt, our props artisans made a one-inch scale clay model to create a paper pattern, then enlarged it to use as a template for four different sized pods. The patterns were then traced onto giant sheets of foam, cut and glued together like puzzle pieces.
There are four puppets that represent Audrey II (we call them "pods") which increase in size as the plant grows throughout the show. Costume Crafts Artisan Barbara Casement holds the smallest pod: a nine inch hand puppet built into a vintage coffee can with a false bottom for the puppeteer’s arm. Keep an eye on those baby vines during the show - they might might even perform a trick!
Pictured above is the third pod: a six foot, six inch human-sized Audrey II in a giant flower pot. Our puppeteer for the show will wear pants and shoes that turn the lower half of his body into moving vines. His top half will be inside the head to animate Audrey II's tongue and jaw, while actor Chaz Rose provides the booming "Feed me Seymour!" vocals off stage.
"The build is challenging because we have to minimize weight but maximize stability. The puppets need to be ergonomic and functional in a way that allows them to be expressive, as well as being able to move on and off stage quickly and seamlessly."
-Props Master Michael Jones, pictured above left with Props Artisan Rachel Peterson Schmerge.
The making of Audrey II employed local talent ranging from props artisans, puppeteers, sculptors, costumers and wood/metal fabricators working together in the weeks before the more traditional production elements - costumes, scenery, props - were created.