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Grosse Pointe Theatre’s show will go on — but later

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published March 17, 2020

GROSSE POINTE PARK — The cast and crew behind Grosse Pointe Theatre’s upcoming production of the musical “Little Shop of Horrors” had been looking forward to opening the show March 27 in the Pierce Middle School auditorium in Grosse Pointe Park.

Then real-life horror struck, as COVID-19 began infecting Michiganders and spreading throughout the state, leading to the closure, at press time, of all schools, restaurants, theaters and many other public gathering spaces, as state officials try to slow down the virus.

“In light of the COVID-19 situation, we regretfully will not be able to run the regularly scheduled performances of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ March 27-April 5,” GPT Executive Director Linda Zublick said by email. “We have been enjoying a wonderful partnership with the Grosse Pointe Public Schools and University Liggett School, and since the schools will be closed, that means we will not be performing. We also believe postponing the show is the correct decision for now, since the safety of our cast, crew, patrons and community are always of utmost concern. We are in unchartered territory here, because in theater the mantra is always, ‘The show must go on!’ Unfortunately, this time it cannot.”

Director and set designer Leta Chrisman, of Harper Woods, has spent weeks working with the cast on the show, which is about a timid floral assistant named Seymour who discovers a new breed of plant that he names Audrey II, after a co-worker on whom he has a crush. The singing, cursing plant promises Seymour fame and fortune, but there’s a steep price to pay to the bloodthirsty Audrey II.

The cast includes Kevin Fitzhenry, of Grosse Pointe Woods, as Seymour; Austin Sulkey, of Detroit, as Seymour’s crush, Audrey; and Betsy King, of Grosse Pointe Farms, as the voice of Audrey II.

“Obviously we’re disappointed about the postponement, but we understand the importance of prioritizing public health,” Chrisman said via email. “Our hope is to bring this show to our audiences when it is safe to do so, and in the meanwhile, we are sending all of the positive energy we have to support the health care professionals combating this virus — including our stage manager!”

Chrisman said stage manager Lauren Berndt, of St. Clair Shores, is a health care worker.

For the many who were looking forward to seeing GPT’s take on this Broadway hit, GPT officials say it will be rescheduled — although those dates haven’t been determined yet.

“We know the cast has been working extremely hard to prepare, so we will be looking into alternate dates later in the spring to be able to still bring this fun musical comedy to the stage,” Zublick said in an email. “I was treated to a preview performance a couple of weeks ago, and this is an incredibly talented cast that must be seen. We are asking our patrons to have patience while we work out the details.”

For more information, call GPT at (313) 881-4004 or visit www.gpt.org.