Artem Case Studies
Little Shop of Horrors The Menier Chocolate Factory
It has been a very exciting collaborative process working with Artem on Audrey II. From presenting the designs and maquettes, the team really ran with the ideas, offering up innovative technical solutions and manufacturing techniques to help bring the plants to life.
David Farley, Production Designer, Little Shop of Horrors
Artem's creative designers brought carnivorous plant, Audrey II, back to life to grace the stage of the Menier Chocolate Factory in Londons first production of Little Shop of Horrors in over 20 years. The show had fantastic reviews and sell out audiences, prompting a move to the Duke of York Theatre on St Martin's Lane.
With less than six weeks to complete the build and installation, making Audrey II was no mean feet. It appears in 4 different stages of growth during the performance initially a 40cm plant in a coffee tin transforming into a colossal 2.3 m tall singing carnivore!
Artems special effects technicians were responsible for creating different incarnations of Audrey II whichwere initially sculpted in clay, with the final and largest requiring over a tonne of clay and a forklift truck to manoeuvre it around the workshop. The fabricating team worked hard on the aesthetic finish of the plants including giant leaves and foliage. The very tight deadline also necessitated the construction of stand in props to enable the cast to rehearse prior to receiving the finished plants.
A team of engineers worked in parallel designing robust mechanical engineering to give the plants and their tendrils character and enable the largest to swallow four people a night!
SFX Designer/Supervisor, Bob Thorne, comments:
This has been a challenging, but exciting project for Artem to work on. Everything we build has to perform nightly in front of a paying live audience, be fire retardant and easy to manoeuvre on and off set.
David Farley has created some beautiful designs and we are delighted to be bringing them to life as part of such a fun and exciting production.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY
THE EVENING STANDARD -4 stars
Yet it is the plant, brought to life by animatronics and puppetry and voiced by Mike McShane, that inevitably dominates the show, growing over the evening from a seedling into a vegetative Gargantua that fills most of the stage!
THE INDEPENDENT - 4 stars
Babani has bunged serious resources into the star of the show: his plant. Its a swanky automated puppet created by a Hollywood special effects firm. Quite a stonker it turns out to be
THE TIMES - 4 stars
Matthew Whites exuberantly vulgar production, presided over by a repulsive botanical villain specially designed and built by Artem Ltd
Even the vegetation has talent. The voracious plant, a relation of the stomach-bursting creature in Alien, begins by looking like an undesirable green penis, and expands into a toad variant with fangs and a character-swallowing gullet. Manipulated by the puppeteer Andy Heath, and voiced by Mike McShane, who gives it welly in the blues number, it ends by sprouting blossoms with singing faces and tendrils that wind their way into the stalls.
THE CRITICS THEATRE - 4 stars
And what of the plant? Artem Limited comes up with several animatronic marvels, from a cute little shoot to a mammoth moving plant that growls feed me in the voice of Mike McShane. Most perturbing. My 12 year old son enjoyed the show enormously, but eyed the cactus in his bedroom with new suspicion on his return home.
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