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A Dentist, a Florist and a Man-Eating Plant

McLean Community Players production of “Little Shop of Horrors” opens at Alden Theatre this weekend.

Hans Bachmann sees movies in his head — but that is a good thing when you are directing a musical that is part horror, part comedy, and features a singing man-eating plant and a dentist addled by nitrous oxide at the center of its story line.

“I create movies in my mind,” said Bachmann, director of the upcoming McLean Community Players production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” “So basically, I keep reading the script and then I try to take the movies in my head and put them on stage.”

This will be the fifth show that Bachmann has directed for the McLean Community Players, having directed “Dial M for Murder,” “South Pacific,” “The Sound of Music,” “Some Enchanted Evening” and “Gypsy” in the past. Bachmann said that the most challenging aspect of directing “Little Shop of Horrors” has also proven to be the most enjoyable aspect of the experience.

“It’s finding the balance because it is based on a B horror flick so it’s kind of tongue and cheek, but you can’t play it that way, and I tell the actors that they have to play their parts serious because it is serious for their characters,” said Bachmann. “There’s this element of fantasy of people being eaten by a talking plant, and as extravagant as a fantasy as it is, it’s kind of fun.”

BASED on Roger Corman’s 1960 cult low-budget horror film “The Little Shop of Horrors,” the off-Broadway musical version was written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, and was also made into a film featuring Rick Moranis and Steve Martin. “Little Shop of Horrors” tells the story of Seymour Krelborn, an unhappy florist’s assistant working at a dilapidated shop down on Skid Row.

Krelborn thinks his luck has finally changed when he comes across a mysterious plant that he names “Audrey II” after his unrequited love. However, “Audrey II” turns out to be a giant man-eating plant from outer space with a penchant for singing R&B tunes.

Bachmann said he enjoyed working with his diverse cast in the hilarious and unusual show.

“They are a phenomenally talented cast,” he said. “They are very encouraging with each other and I feel blessed to have so many talented people.”

The caliber of his cast is an important factor for Bachmann, since he says it is the parental nature of directing that appeals to him most.

“It’s kind of like a parental responsibility,” he said. “I give them the tools they need to succeed and then I sit back and watch them.”

McLEAN COMMUNITY PLAYERS is a local community theater group that is the result of a merger between three major local community theater groups: The Great Falls Players, Community Alliance Supporting Theater (C.A.S.T.) and the McLean Theater Alliance. The three organizations merged last fall in an effort to maximize the amount of shows they could put on at the Alden Theatre, while simultaneously reducing competition for the Alden Theatre space. Originally, the McLean Theater Alliance had planned to present “Little Shop of Horrors,” but after the merger, it became a McLean Community Players’ production.

“Little Shop of Horrors” stage manager Douglas F. Yriart has lived in McLean since 1984 and helped to found C.A.S.T. in 1995. Yriart says it has been a challenging, albeit fun, production, given the number of props and technical requirements posed by the man-eating plant “Audrey II.” The McLean Community Players rented “Audrey II” and a dentist’s chair from W.T. Woodson High School for the performance.

Yriart said he has also enjoyed working with Hans Bachmann once again.

“It’s been fun watching the actors grow into their roles and develop their characters along the way,” said Yriart. “Hans gives his actors a lot of latitude to develop their characters.