Downtown Art

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July 18, 2005 // UPDATED 1:56 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

A plant that consumes people is the perfect symbol for a romantic struggle. Plus, I can't think of a better setting for a fatal-attraction horror story than a floral shop, where lovers (and others) briefly pass to buy items with the intent of wooing.

So, it only makes sense (in a fantasy sort of way) that the lovesick Seymour Kelbourn should fall prey to a killer plant while falling in love with a girl named Audrey. Like most bouquets, this paramount plant impresses her. She realizes its potential as a roadside attraction.

But the slimy plant is sneaky. It, too, is aware of its notoriety when it lures Seymour into a pact, trapping him into withholding details of its diet: human blood. Seymour thinks he can pull it off, but is it possible that the plant actually stands between him and the object of his ardor, Audrey?

Former Minneapolis resident Jonathan Rayson portrays the doomed Seymour in the classic "Little Shop of Horrors."

"I love it because I always resonated with Seymour," he said. "I always felt like a dork at heart. That piece of us always longing for something better than we have."

As Seymour, Rayson acts out a complex range of emotions, including fear, sadness, loathing, longing and love. "It's a perfect tale of 'be careful what you wish for' and what you're willing to do to get what you want," he said. "Seymour starts innocently to get a better life."

Rayson said that he's loved the play since seeing it at a dinner theater when he was little. Coming from a musical family wherein his dad was his first inspiration (in his 70s, Dad's still in a band).

Although he now lives in New York City (when he's not on the road), his move was prompted by his role in the Children's Theatre Company's production of "Frog and Toad."

Unlike most actors who seek out Broadway with little success, Rayson was unemployed for a mere month after "Frog and Toad" ended.

Even though "Frog and Toad" went to Broadway, Rayson's next goal is to land a role that originates there. He'd also like to do TV and film spots.

Rayson said he was excited to return to Minneapolis because he still considers it home (he lived here for 13 years). Throughout the last couple of years, he's maintained many Minneapolis connections and is even recording a musical CD locally, featuring 1970s cover songs from people such as Joni Mitchell and James Taylor.

Although he couldn't say for sure when it was going to be completed, progress is being marked on his Web site:

Tu-Su July 19-24; Tu-Th 7:30 p.m., F 8 p.m.,

Sa 2 p.m. & 8 p.m., Su 1 p.m. & 6:30 p.m.

Orpheum, 910 Hennepin Ave. S.

$20-$73. 651-989-5151,