Ande returns to the Belfast stage after six years

This October, former Dromore High School student Ande Gray will take to the stage in New Lyric Operatic Company’s brand new production of Little Shop of Horrors!

Karen Hawthorne (Audrey) and Ande Gray (Seymour) in  Little Shop of Horrors
Karen Hawthorne (Audrey) and Ande Gray (Seymour) in Little Shop of Horrors

Ande is no stranger to the stage, having previously portrayed roles such as Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, Action in West Side Story and Francis Fryer in Calamity Jane.

This production, however, is a little bit special, as it’s is Ande’s return to the stage after a six year absence, during which he got to live his childhood dream… As a TV Presenter! Ande has presented on many different channels, including The BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5, TV3 and RTE, a company for whom he presented their last ever in house Children’s TV show, Pop Goes The Weekend. He is also owner and Artist Director of Stage and Media School NiStars, which currently has 150 students who receive weekly classes in singing, dancing, acting and presenting.

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When asked why he decided to return to the stage, Ande explained: “I grew up in theatre, and the love for it never really goes away. I’ve directed plenty of shows with NiStars, but over the past year, I really started to miss performing. This opportunity to perform one of my favourite ever parts, Seymour, came up and it was too good to turn down.”

Seymour (Ande Gray) with the infantile man eating plant Audrey II in the Little Shop of Horrors

Ande’s interest in acting came in Dromore High, with his first ever show being in the schools 1998 production of Bugsy Malone.

“I remember how exciting it was all these years later,” said Ande. “Dromore has a stellar drama department, still going strong all these years later, and i’m delighted to be performing alongside current Dromore pupils Reece Robinson and Sophie Tate, who tell me that the drama department is as good as it was back then, still under the guidance of the outstanding Mrs Ravey!”.

Little Shop of Horrors is a musical full of big songs and plenty of comedy, and is based on the cult classic 1986 movie starring Rick Moranis. This is the latest in a long line of productions staged by the now 70 year old New Lyric Operatic Company, with previous productions including performances of White Christmas, Wizard of Oz, My Fair Lady, and many more.

Little Shop of Horrors tells the story of nerdy flower shop worker Seymour Krelbourn, portrayed by Ande, an unlucky in life, happy go lucky character, who unwittingly purchases and rears a plant which requires a very special type of food in order to survive - human blood! If Seymour feeds the plant it’s required diet, he will given rewards of fame, fortune, family, and most importantly, the chance to be with the love of his life, fellow shop worker Audrey. But the only way Seymour can get the blood the plant needs survive is by doing something he has never done before - kill people!

Ande with Pop Goes The Weekend co host Clara Murray

New Lyric’s production of the show features a cast of 60, aged between 8 and 60 from across Northern Ireland, and joining Ande onstage are Newtownards Actress Karen Hawthorne as Audrey, and the vocal powerhouse Fiona Keegan as Audrey II. It’s Directed by Ross David Chambers, with Musical Direction from Ryan Greer and Choreography from Alex McFarland. Tickets for the family friendly production are available now at NewLyric.co.uk/tickets for the production which takes place on October 12 and 13 at Stranmillis Theatre, Belfast.