Theatre veterans to lead SAAC’s Little Shop of Horrors | Local Entertainment

The Southern Arkansas Arts Center in El Dorado will welcome Delaine Gates and Darrin Riley as co-directors of their spring 2023 production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Long time veterans of the stage, Gates and Riley have worked together dozens of times over the years, including at SAAC, at El Dorado High School, and at international festivals and performances. They will be joined again by “Little Shop of Horrors,” sponsored by Murphy-Pitard Jewelers and All About Flowers, scheduled to take the stage March 3-5 and 9-11, 2023.

Delaine Gates is a veteran director with more than 100 productions under her belt. The longtime director of El Dorado High School’s theater program and Thespian Troupe 42, she thinks of herself as a “process director” who loves to guide actors through their creative journey.

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She and Darrin Riley, an accomplished actor and director in his own right, have collaborated on 45 different productions. Their creative chemistry has been seen in projects as diverse as the South Arkansas Arts Center’s 2016 production of “Frankenstein,” the 2014 production of “Les Miserables” in association with the South Arkansas Symphony, and Thespian Troupe 42’s 2011 production of “Hairspray” — all the way back to their very first collaboration in a 1992 production of “Waiting for Godot.”

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Gates and Riley love “Little Shop of Horrors” for its darkly comedic energy and Motown-inspired musical numbers. The show, written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, is one of the longest-running off-Broadway musicals of all time, and was adapted into a 1986 film starring Rick Moranis. With a bloody alien plant at the center of science fiction, the show is full of beloved characters such as a defeated Seymour, his beloved Audrey, an evil dentist, and a three-girl doo-wop chorus.

“‘Siop Fach’ is a thriller with comic elements, but it is also an exploration into the psyche of each character as they respond to external influences beyond their control,” said Riley. “The audience enters their world and experiences their lives as if they were real.”

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“It’s essentially a Greek tragedy with a science fiction twist,” Gates continued. “We want to keep all that chill and thrill, but with a deeper exploration of the human condition.”

The co-directors are planning auditions on January 15 and 16, 2023. For audition information, call the South Arkansas Arts Center at 870-862-5474 or stop by 110 E. 5th Street in El Dorado.

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