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Actor Returns Home, Becomes Prosecutor, Opens as Lead in Newport Production of "Little Shop"

The last time Nick Horton appeared on an area stage, he was a student at Purcell Marian High School in Cincinnati, playing hard-luck, Skid Row floral assistant Seymour, who somehow manages to nurture a blood-gulping plant from outer space to world domination in gleeful musical comedy Little Shop of Horrors
 
More than a decade later, Horton returns to a local stage -- as Seymour, at Stained Glass Theater in Newport, where Footlighters tips its hat to Halloween with a revival of the ever-popular, Sixties rockin’ Little Shop, continuing through Oct. 25.
 
In between, Horton earned a degree in musical theater from Kent State University, moved to New York, did summer stock, toured a lot of Asia in “Grease” – and earned his law degree, passed the Bar and signed on as an assistant prosecutor in Clermont County.
 
Horton loves the show and its effervescent songs, the likeable characters (“even the sadistic dentist”) and as for Seymour, “he kind of fits me.” 
 
If you don’t know Little Shop in any of its iterations, starting in 1960 as a cheapo B-movie that famously gave Jack Nicholson his first stand-out role (as the above-mentioned sadistic dentist), then debuting 20 years later as an Off-Broadway mega-hit, long run musical; which in turn was made into a movie – here’s the skinny: Inept Seymour works for Mr. Melnick the florist. The neighborhood – Skid Row – doesn’t exactly attract business. Seymour loves Audrey, who’s dating the sadistic dentist. 
 
Then, one night, a mysterious pod lands outside the shop. What could it be? Seymour nurtures it, names it for his beloved – Audrey II – and it grow. And grows. And becomes a media sensation. And starts talking. And singing R&B. And tempting Seymour with a Faustian bargain. 
 
Horton’s road home to Cincinnati began in 2009. He was back from Malaysia and had a little epiphany. 
 
“I was going from show to survival job to show to survival job – I wasn’t doing it because I loved it, I was doing it to make a living.”
 
It would be better, he decided, “to be financially stable and do theater on the side.”
 
He’d always been interested in law and enrolled in a degree program at Florida State. While he’d been touring, Horton had missed some of his family’s “big life moments,” including births and a death. When he graduated, he came home. 
 
Now he’s back home on the stage, too. “Oh, yeah, I love it again,” Horton said. “I missed it. On a stage is where I like to be. Now I’m doing it for the right reasons.”
 
The thing about theater, Horton says, is “You meet fantastic people.” He’s ready for more and he’ll return to Footlighters in March, in the musical “Little Women.” 
 
Little Shop of Horrors, through Oct. 25. Stained Glass Theater, 8th & York Streets, Newport. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Additional performance 8 p.m. Oct. 22. Tickets $20. Box office: (859) 652-3849 and www.footlighters.org.
 
Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts
 
Photo: Nick Horton as Seymour (center), Joe Hornbaker as Mushnik, and Megan Hudson as Audrey/Mikki Schaffner