MUSIC theatre performer Esther Hannaford already had working with a giant animatronic ape in King Kong on her resume when she decided to add performing alongside a huge carnivorous plant to her skill set.
The Helpmann Award winner is currently starring as Audrey in cult musical Little Shop of Horrors, directed by Dean Bryant with choreography by Andrew Hallsworth.
Puppet makers Erth (Dinosaur Zoo) created a new Audrey II plant for the production, which Hannaford said was proving fun to work with.
“It’s operated live like King Kong, so it’s very much like working with the other actors in any other scene,” Hannaford, who was last in Perth for Mamma Mia, said.
“I like that it’s live every night to make it a fresh performance every night; whatever happens, happens, although it’s pretty fool-proof. If something doesn’t go seamlessly we can always keep going, just like you would if you fall over or forget a line.”
Little Shop of Horrors is based on the film and follows humble shop assistant Seymour Krelborn, who works in Mr Mushnik’s flower shop on Skid Row.
His crush on fellow employee Audrey leads him to name a curious plant species after her which, as it grows, proves to be more than he bargained for.
Hannaford, born and based in Melbourne, said the opportunity to collaborate with Bryant and Brent Hill (Seymour) was a big part of why she chose to do the doowop musical, complete with three-part female harmony Greek chorus.
“I knew they would put a different spin on it with a different take,” she said.
“I knew that it would be dark; I wanted to find the depths of the dark truth in it so that then we could make it funny. I knew they would honour that kind of truth.”
Hannaford said her character Audrey’s comedy stemmed for her heartache and hardship, which was a challenge but exactly the kind of role she was interested in.
“Audrey is very vulnerable and susceptible to being affected, hurt and moved by other people and what they do,” she said.
“I don't think Orin (her dentist boyfriend) is the first time she’s been in an abusive relationship.
“I think she hasn’t had much opportunity or education, she has no money, little self-worth and really has spent most of her time looking at magazines and the way women are supposed to be at her age.
“She doesn’t have kids or a solid relationship, so I think she’s spent a lot of her time thinking about how to be better and how to get the life she’s sort of been told she’s meant to have.
“She just doesn’t quite have the resources to keep up.”
Community Newspaper Group has 10 double passes to give away to Little Shop of Horrors on Tuesday, August 9. Enter at www.communitynews.com.au by June 20.
Esther Hannaford and Brent Hill as Audrey and Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors.