In ‘Little Store Of Horrors,’ Conrad Ricamora Gets A Chance To Smash Theatrical Boundaries

In ‘Little Store Of Horrors,’ Conrad Ricamora Gets A Chance To Smash Theatrical Boundaries

Conrad Ricamora endeared himself to a technology of television viewers by charming the pants off Jack Falahee ― in both of those the literal and figurative feeling ― on ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder” for 6 seasons.

Numerous lovers, nonetheless, could be astonished to know that Ricamora was a theater actor prior to his tv fame, with a phase resume that consists of the 2015 Broadway revival of “The King and I” as well as the off-Broadway musicals “Here Lies Love” and “Soft Energy.”

This spring, Ricamora returns to the phase in the off-Broadway revival of “Tiny Store of Horrors,” now participating in at New York’s Westside Theatre. The musical follows a meek flower shop assistant named Seymour Krelborn (Ricamora), who discovers an extraterrestrial plant that feeds on human flesh. The plant results in being a countrywide sensation and aids Seymour bond with a similarly down-on-her-luck colleague, Audrey (Tammy Blanchard), but disaster looms as he must determine out new means to satiate his horticultural discovery’s thirst for blood.

When Ricamora joined the musical’s forged in January, he faced the unenviable process of embodying a position performed by Jonathan Groff to fantastic acclaim when the output opened in 2019. Groff’s successors in the purpose have also integrated actors Gideon Glick and Jeremy Jordan, each beloved Broadway stalwarts who have due to the fact parlayed their theatrical chops into good results on television and in film.

The good news is, Ricamora had not witnessed his predecessors’ performances as Seymour beforehand, which meant he was ready to method the part with neutrality. Like Groff and Glick, the California-born Filipino actor is homosexual. He is also the 1st Asian American to assume the function in the present-day manufacturing, and becoming to supply audiences that intersectional representation is a thing he doesn’t just take for granted.

"This is a character who was born into really desperate, desolate circumstances," Ricamora said of Seymour in "Little Shop of Horrors."
“This is a character who was born into seriously determined, desolate conditions,” Ricamora reported of Seymour in “Minimal Shop of Horrors.”

“Seymour isn’t a homosexual or Asian character, so it’s an option for me to explain to a story that is not a queer or Asian American story, but just a human story,” Ricamora explained to HuffPost. “I would love for other Asian American actors to have opportunities to do that. That’s one thing I’m genuinely excited and hopeful for.”

“This is a character who was born into genuinely determined, desolate instances,” he added. “His story is about the lengths we, as human beings, will go to find relationship and love, whether or not it is correct or erroneous. Which is a solid concept in the exhibit that I seriously enjoy.”

Ricamora’s “Little Store of Horrors” casting will come at a time when Asian American illustration in New York’s theater sector continues to be at a startling minimal. A 2019 research conducted by the Asian American Performers Motion Coalition discovered that when 33% of all roles on New York phases went to performers from marginalized teams in the 2016-2017 period, Asian actors loaded just 7.3% of those people roles.

That neighborhood was poised to get a increase in theatrical illustration in 2020, when 9 works by Asian playwrights ended up slated to be staged in the Huge Apple. In advance of several of these operates were being generated, on the other hand, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down a lot of theaters and general performance venues throughout the United States.

"Theater gives you a sense of community that no other entertainment medium can provide," Ricamora (second from left) said.
“Theater gives you a feeling of neighborhood that no other enjoyment medium can give,” Ricamora (second from remaining) said.

As soon as Broadway and off-Broadway theaters reopened their doors last slide, quite a few ended up keen to tout the theater industry’s so-identified as “reckoning” when it arrived to presenting Black and Latinx ordeals onstage. When requested why he thinks the Asian existence in theater has not nonetheless followed match, Ricamora mentioned, “That’s a dissertation-stage dialogue that is multilayered and nuanced.”

“As Asians, we’re not constantly inspired to use our bodies and physicality and graphic in phrases of expression,” he said. “Within our possess society, there is not a lot of encouragement in phrases of demonstrating our very own picture in entrance of individuals. We’re taught to function really hard powering the scenes, to preserve our heads down and accomplish status and accomplishment that way. But with that will come a deficiency of actual physical image-primarily based representation. That does a good deal to our self-esteem and feeling of selves.”

Ricamora is slated to star in “Little Shop of Horrors” by Could 15, immediately after which he’ll be changed by “Pitch Perfect” and “Zoey’s Incredible Playlist” star Skylar Astin as Seymour. About a month after that, he’ll return to the little monitor together with Joel Kim Booster, Margaret Cho and Bowen Yang in Hulu’s “Hearth Island,” which has been billed as an LGBTQ-inclusive adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” that normally takes put on Fire Island, New York’s premier gay vacation resort spot.

“It was just a desire to perform with all people on that motion picture,” Ricamora explained. “[Booster] has been coming to Hearth Island for yrs, and one day, he was sitting down on the beach viewing all of these cliques of individuals socialize and interact. He recognized individuals dynamics felt a great deal like ‘Pride and Prejudice.’”

“I’m super excited to share it with the entire world,” he extra.

Ricamora (right, with co-stars James Scully and Nick Adams) returns to television this June in Hulu's “Fire Island,” which has been billed as an LGBTQ-inclusive take on “Pride and Prejudice.”
Ricamora (proper, with co-stars James Scully and Nick Adams) returns to tv this June in Hulu’s “Fire Island,” which has been billed as an LGBTQ-inclusive take on “Pride and Prejudice.”

Jeong Park/Searchlight Photographs

Ricamora also just lately joined forces with actors Kelvin Moon Loh and Jeigh Madjus to establish “No Rice,” a television sequence primarily based on their collective, real-lifestyle encounters.

“It’s about homosexual Asian most effective mates who are navigating their have identities even though seeking for really like, sexual intercourse and acceptance in New York Metropolis,” Ricamora said of the job. “We sold it a 12 months in the past and will hopefully get it greenlit soon.”

But as he plots his up coming Hollywood chapter, Ricamora stated his “Little Store of Horrors” encounter has reminded him of why he’ll generally return to reside theater in some capability.

“Theater presents you a perception of group that no other leisure medium can provide,” he stated. “You can’t get that from viewing Netflix or heading to a movie theater. Anything can happen on any night, and we get to knowledge that with the viewers in authentic time. Which is one thing I took for granted beforehand but now am relishing so a great deal.”