BEMIDJI -- Tanner Garrigan had a severe case of stage fright when he was a sophomore at Bemidji High School. With his booming voice, he earned a spot in the cast of the school's musical, but as opening night approached, he couldn't go on.
"I was too scared to get up in front of people," Garrigan said. "About a month before the show I chickened out." Instead, he served as an usher for the play.
Five years later, stage fright has been conquered. Garrigan will be on stage -- sort of -- when the Paul Bunyan Playhouse presents its third show of the season. The musical "Little Shop of Horrors" opens a two-week run Friday night at the Chief Theater in downtown Bemidji. The 21-year-old Concordia College senior will sing and dance as a drunkard in the opening scene. Afterward, he will perform as the voice of Audrey II, the singing, man-eating plant.
"It's a kickin' role that's just so much fun," said Garrigan, who is majoring in vocal music education at the Moorhead school. "Actually it's one of my dream roles. I watched the movie when I was growing up and thought, you know that role is pretty killer. With my bass voice, everyone was like 'you'd make a great Audrey II.' I love getting to sing some jazz. I'm a huge jazz guy."
Those songs include "Feed Me (Git It!)" and "Suppertime," two of Garrigan's favorite Audrey II offerings. "Feed Me" comes in the opening act, and "Suppertime" comes after intermission. "It's like 'you gave me lunch in the first act, now it's time to get some big meal going,'" Garrigan said.
This is Garrigan's second season with the Playhouse. He performed in "Ring of Fire" last year. He also works in the box office at the Chief this summer. He'll be back at Concordia next month to complete his undergraduate work, then hopes to go on for a master's degree before starting his teaching career.
"It's a fun play to do," said Jim Williams, Paul Bunyan Playhouse artistic director. "It's a little absurd, but the songs are really catchy. It's tongue and check, plays on those old horror films, damsels in distress, and unique because it's got these puppets that speak."
If you go:
What: “Little Shop of Horrors,” third show of Paul Bunyan Playhouse’s 68th season.
Where: Chief Theater, 314 Beltrami Ave., downtown Bemidji.
When: Today and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., 2 p.m. Sunday; 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 10; 7:30 p.m. shows Thursday-Saturday next week.
Tickets: General admission is $25, matinee $20, student $15 and flex books are still available for $115; (218) (218) 751-7270 or online at www.thechieftheater.com/tickets.
Up next: “Driving Miss Daisy,” July 19-27.