Helen McNamara knows which brand of cornflakes produce the best crunch.

As logistics manager for the Harcourts Hawke's Bay Arts Festival, it's Helen's job to source the props for each performance, including the outrageous Little Shop of Horrors, where the sound effects from the movie are produced live on stage.

"Little Shop of Horrors has one of the most bizarre props lists I've ever received," says Helen.

Props include a large box of Kellogg's cornflakes ("they produce the best crunch"), a packet of two-minute noodles, a bucket of gravel, a large cardboard bicycle box, a metre of metal chain, a can of silly string, a head of celery and a savoy cabbage.


"I have it on good authority that a savoy cabbage produces a better sound effect than an iceberg lettuce," says Helen.

Throw in an angle grinder (the dentist's drill), a gas cartridge and a portable stove and this show has all the makings of a disaster waiting to happen.

Fortunately for the audience, the cast of Little Shop of Horrors is a group of highly skilled multi-taskers who are adept at handling power tools.

"While it may look chaotic, it's an incredibly polished and precisely choreographed performance," says Helen.

Produced by Live Live Cinema, Little Shop of Horrors transforms the classic 1960s cult film into an action-packed stage show.

The audio from the film is completely stripped away, meaning every single action on screen, from a door opening to the sound of footsteps, has to be produced live in front of the audience, using an array of props.

With just four people on stage, each actor plays multiple roles while simultaneously voicing the dialogue, playing musical instruments and creating the sound effects. The actors work at breakneck speed, literally jumping from piano to guitar, bass to doorbell, reaching over, under and around one another.

"With so much happening on stage, the biggest problem the audience has is knowing where to look," says Helen.

"Live" cinema has become a common fixture of arts festivals, usually involving a small musical ensemble performing an original score to a classic film.

Live Live Cinema takes this concept to a whole other level by playing a musical score, producing all sound effects and voicing the dialogue in perfect time to what's happening on screen.

Created and composed by Leon Radojkovic and directed by former Shortland Street bad boy Oliver Driver, Little Shop of Horrors is yet another example of New Zealand's deep pool of creative talent.

Since opening in May 2015, Little Shop of Horrors has toured extensively throughout the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, with critics and audiences raving about the originality, audacity and sheer absurdity of the production.

Little Shop of Horrors, part of the Harcourts Hawke's Bay Arts Festival. Wednesday and Thursday October 12 and 13, 7.30pm. Spiegeltent, Havelock North