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Ambler actor brings first-hand experience to the stage in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ at Bristol Riverside Theatre

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By RITA CHARLESTON
For 21st Century Media News

Bristol Riverside Theatre concludes its current season with the popular cult classic “Little Shop of Horrors,” through June 8.
This play is a comedy/horror rock musical about a hapless florist shop worker who raises a plant that feeds on human blood and flesh. The music, composed in the style of early 1960s rock ’n’ roll, doo-wop and early Motown, includes several well-known tunes, including the title song, “Skid Row (Downtown),” “Somewhere That’s Green,” and “Suddenly Seymour.”
Laura Giknis, who was born in Ambler, takes the female lead role of Audrey, the gal who has a crush on Seymour, the florist. In the 1986 film, Audrey is a kind and sweet woman and Seymour has had a crush on her for years, but she was dating an abusive sadist.
“Her super abusive boyfriend has made her feel completely worthless, something I experienced first-hand from a boyfriend in high school who was verbally abusive to me,” Giknis admits. “Our director, Susan Atkinson, wanted honesty in the character, so I was able to tap into those real feelings inside me.”
According to Giknis, she was able to get into the mindset that Audrey felt, dealing with a person who makes you feel worthless, and thinking about how lucky you are to be with him since nobody else would want you.
“And yet, Giknis says, “Audrey is basically a fun character to play. She gets to interact well with the other characters, and although she has moments of great joy as well as great pain, I think it’s easy for the audience to connect with her.”
Giknis has done “Little Shop” before in the role of Chiffon in an 11th Hour Theatre Company/Theatre Horizon production. But now she has the female lead which, she confesses, makes her very happy.
Growing up, Giknis admits she was somewhat of a tomboy, enjoying soccer more than acting. “But by the time I got to high school and started being in shows there, I found I was having so much fun performing, why not continue to do it in college?”
Why not indeed. So it was off to West Chester University to major in visual and performing arts. And right after graduation, she began her professional career. Her first local show for 11th Hour/Montgomery Theatre was “Reefer Madness,” a play, she contends, was one of her favorites.
“My character in the show was naïve and slapstick, and we had such a great cast. Also, being the first show I ever did made it an experience I’ll never forget. I also enjoyed doing ‘Up’ at Bristol, which was a straight play and very riveting.”
And while Giknis has some film and TV experience, she describes herself as a “live theater kind of girl who enjoys working on the stage — although I wouldn’t be opposed to more film and TV work if somebody wanted to hire me.”

IF YOU GO
WHAT: “Little Shop of Horrors”
WHEN: Through June 8.
WHERE: Bristol Riverside Theatre, 120 Radcliffe St., Bristol.
TICKETS: Start at $42 with discounts for students, groups and military personnel.
INFO.: Call (215) 785-0100 or visit brtstage.org.

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