COTTAGE GROVE - William Hallock is destined for digestion.
In the Park High School Musical "Little Shop of Horrors," he plays Seymour, one-third of a love triangle involving a girl and a man-eating plant.
Not only is it Hallock's first lead role in a musical - it's also the first time as an actor that the scenery will chew him.
"I'd say it's a little bit weird, especially acting with a puppet that eats you," he said.
That would be Audrey II, the voracious, foul-mouthed, jerk-in-the-beanstalk that Seymour unwittingly nurses from a tiny sprig to a monstrous plant-zilla that demands human appetizers.
Seymour makes his deal with the devil to escape the misery of his dead-end job in a florist shop on skid row. The only light in his grim existence is another Audrey, his adored co-worker (played by squeaky keen Sabrina Martin). When the other Audrey starts attracting attention from the media, Seymour sees the chance to exploit the creature for profit. But how far is he prepared to go?
"He believes it could be his ticket out of his horrible life," Hallock said. "It's a way to escape and be someone new."
Getting the Audrey II puppets to move, talk and sing is a group effort. The rig, designed by Brent and Brandon Bankes and voiced by Park student Michael Fish, uses a series of pods that grow from a hand puppet to a T-Rex sized head that requires an actor to manipulate the head and jaws from the inside.
When a victim disappears into Audrey's mouth, they hold onto some handles on Audrey II's tongue and the crew drags them through the gullet and out the other side.
Josh Lester plays sadistic dentist Orin Scivello.
"Little Shop of Horrors" with music by Alan Menken and book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, was based on the 1960 creature feature by B-movie director Roger Corman. The show contains mild violence and some profanity but no overt gore. It may be too intense for younger children.
Director Quinn Forrest Masterson chose "Little Shop" for its black humor.
"This one does a beautiful job of walking the line between campy and dark," he said. "I wanted to stray a little bit from the stereotypical 'Footloose' or 'Grease'-type show and get something different, no pun intended, to chew on."
"Little Shop of Horrors" features Ben O'Connor as music director, Tracy Caponigri as assistant director, Lewis Youngren as choreographer and Tom Storm as pit conductor.
If you go...
What: "Little Shop of Horrors"
When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 26-27; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 28; 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, May 2-4; and 2 p.m. Sunday May 5.
Where: Park High School, 8040 80th St. S., Cottage Grove
Cost: Tickets are $8-$10 and can be purchased online at https://red.vendini.com/ticket-software.html?e=2f3fc44c72afe053f6f2fb860... or in person at the box office one hour prior to each performance.