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The Diva Plant: Cat Call Productions enters its second year with Little Shop of Horrors 

click to enlarge culture_lsoh_fullcast.jpg
Tifany LeGuyonne is sitting in a third row of seats of a mostly empty Tower Theater, looking up at an equally blank stage where a few crew members and musicians are hustling around in preparation for that evening's community showcase, which will give the public its first glimpse of LeGuyonne's latest artistic endeavor - a full-scale production of Little Shop of Horrors.

Again, the stage is vacant and completely black, but LeGuyonne can already see the "comic book" colors that will soon drape the entire front of the theater for the second full-scale theatrical undertaking by Cat Call Productions, the company LeGuyonne owns with her husband, Kael. Last fall, the group produced Cabaret and immediately built a reputation for producing high-end, professional-level theater in Bend. That show was sexy, explosive and more musically polished than pretty much anything our local theater community had seen.

"I wanted to see big city theater in Bend. I wanted to see high-quality local productions," says LeGuyonne, "Being a dancer, singer and actress in town, I knew how many incredible performers live here and I wanted to give them the opportunity to do something like this. It's high-end, but it's also local and that's my focus."

The 30-year-old LeGuyonne speaks softly and precisely in the sort of tone one might expect from a massage therapist, which happens to be her profession. But the artistic vision she's employed - along with her production team that includes choreographer Michelle Majaski, who orchestrated Cabaret's many dance numbers, and Deb De Grosse, the Mountain View High School drama instructor who is again heading up stage direction - is much more bold than LeGuyonne's demeanor.

With Little Shop of Horrors, the famous musical set in the early 1960s about a hapless shopkeeper who turns to murder in order to feed a blood-hungry talking plant, Cat Call is taking a somewhat different approach, at least in terms of the cast. While Cabaret featured more than 30 performers, the cast of Little Shop weighs in at a mere nine members. And most of this cast is new to the Cat Call fold, like Kahlia Aposhian and Rebekah Sharpe, who plays Audrey, with a few exceptions, one of them being Rick Johnson, who played the vibrantly rowdy Emcee in Cabaret. In Little Shop, Johnson takes on the role of Seymour (remember when Rick Moranis played him in the 1986 film version?), a complete 180 for the actor. But another star of the show is Evan Smith, whom we won't see - because he'll be inside the life-size plant puppet that Cat Call had shipped in from California.

"If you don't have a good plant for this show, the show is terrible. The plant is the diva of the show," says LeGuyonne.

The plant, she says, is also the focus of much of the child-like excitement she expects the show to generate.

"I turn into a third grader when I get around the puppets," says LeGuyonne with a laugh.

At the First Friday showcase at the Tower, the cast performed a few musical numbers from the show. The songs were already tight, even a few weeks before opening night, and like Cabaret, the performance is all around high-level - even without the colorful sets. LeGuyonne and company hope it's enough to draw the sort of packed houses that their first production enjoyed.

"When you've got sold out shows rather than 80 percent it's great for morale and it's more fun for the audience, too," says LeGuyonne.

What will draw theatergoers to the show, again, is the level of performance we see here. And it seems Cat Call is aware of this.

"There's no one else who's really doing what we're doing," says LeGuyonne, "This year we have a little bit more of a reputation and a lot of people are expecting great things from us. We're working very, very hard."

Little Shop of Horrors

September 17-25, Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St. For tickets and show times, visit towertheatre.org.

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