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Harrison Man Stars in "Little Shop of Horrors"

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Matt Cioffi couldn't get enough of the giant-talking plant causing havoc during a performance of "Little Shop of Horrors," which opened at Mamaroneck's Westchester Sandbox Theatre over the weekend.

"It's a small space, but they do so much with it," said Matt's mom Margie, who is a member of the City Island Theater Group. Matt simply said, "It's good," before posing for a picture with the giant plant after the show.

Although Matt, 11, sat in the last row with his parents, he was still just five rows from the front. "No matter where you're sitting, you're close to the stage," Brenda Ferrante said.

Brenda, who is retired, helps her son promote his long-list of adult and young-people productions at the intimate 75-seat theatre, which allowed the "Little Shop of Horrors" cast to interact with the audience. This included the giant plant, named Audrey II, threatening to eat those in the front row, who were mere inches away from the green-giant's gobbler.

"Anytime you can get the audience involved, it just highness the experience [sic] and it makes them want to come again," said Steven Bendler, who played the dastardly dentist, as well as all of the fast-talking media moguls trying to capitalize on the famous plant of Seymour, played by the theatre's owner, Daniel Ferrante.

Daniel, who hit all the perfect notes as the clumsy floral shop worker with a crush, and director Benjamin Sterling Cannon adapted the rock musical so parents, like Cioffi, could bring their children. "They really did try to modify it so it didn't scare the young children," Brenda said.

"They have Mainstage productions, which are more geared toward the adult population, but what they're the most proud of is the work they do with the young people," Brenda said. "It's the most important thing for them."

Mainstage productions, like "Little Shop of Horrors", can also be family-oriented, but have adult casts. The Boston Post Road theater, which opened in November of 2008, also has the Young People's Theatre, which includes three age groups. Each stage three-to-four professionally produced shows a year.

"They're very proud that they give them a chance to shine on stage and share their love of the theater with other kids that have the same interest," Brenda said.

All age groups, which range from kindergarten to high school seniors, have to audition. "The teens are expected to audition like real people, but the younger kids have a little leeway," Daniel said. "It's a wide range of talent. It's all about feeling comfortable and making friends, as it is for the adults."

Dan will hold auditions from July 18 to July 20 for the next Young People's Theatre production, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee".

The theater also offers a summer camp from July 11 through July 29, which teaches children acting, singing, dancing and writing.

"Little Shop of Horrors" will be playing Saturdays and Sundays through July 24.

Do you prefer the smaller setting of the Westchester Sandbox Theatre?

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