Samantha Duval made her FST debut this summer with the hit Cabaret, Divas Three, featuring four decades of hits by some of music’s most influential women. Now, she returns to FST to play Audrey, a down-on-her-luck woman who dreams of escaping Skid Row, in FST's production of Little Shop of Horrors, a hit Broadway and sci-fi musical that has been entertaining audiences for over 40 years.
We sat down with Duval to talk about creating the character of Audrey, her favorite song from the show to perform night after night, and what she most enjoys about the iconic musical.
Little Shop of Horrors is a cult classic. Why do you think the show is so popular and beloved?
I think Little Shop of Horrors has everything going for it: a really great soundtrack full of super catchy songs, just enough horror to keep you engaged, a love story, aliens, etc. What else do you need?
Also, the 1986 film adaptation of the musical has some famous actors that everyone loves—Rick Moranis, John Candy, and Bill Murray. As soon as I told my mom that Steve Martin played Orin Scrivello D.D.S., my character Audrey’s deadbeat boyfriend, in the movie, she got really excited.
What is your favorite song to perform in Little Shop of Horrors and why?
My favorite song to perform in the show is actually “Skid Row (Downtown).” I love the fact that it’s an ensemble piece. In fact, that’s one of the main things I really love about theatre. I love working with a group of actors to tell a story. This song sets up the show really well. Every character has their moment to begin to tell their story, start their character arc, and shine.
You play Audrey, Seymour’s coworker and love interest, in Little Shop of Horrors. How would you describe her?
I think Audrey is very shy, doesn’t really have much self-esteem, and doesn’t think she deserves a lot. But she doesn’t let that stop her from dreaming. She longs for a simple, content life. I think she’s very sweet and is simply doing her best with the cards she’s been dealt.
When you were developing your take on Audrey, did you look at past portrayals of her or approach it completely fresh?
Little Shop of Horrors has been around since the 1980s, and I’ve seen the movie version of the musical where Ellen Greene plays Audrey. I’ve also seen the current Off-Broadway revival, but I didn't study those versions or try to emulate their take on the character in any way. I’ve tried to make it my own and have tried to do it in a way that I feel best tells her story. The show’s director, Sean Daniels, really trusted us [the cast] a lot and gave us freedom to play and discover things as we went.
Do you have a personal connection to Little Shop of Horrors?
Little Shop was written the year before I was born, so it’s one of those shows I grew up with. I fell in love with the music from a young age, learned the story, and thought it was just so entertaining. Little Shop is so campy and silly but has a lot of heart.