‘Little Shop of Horrors’ actor pays tribute to mentor in role of Seymour

Although he’s no longer here to take the stage with his beloved Augusta Players, the late Richard Justice will be part of the group’s season opener in spirit.

“This is a legacy show for this organization and the last time they did this, this was Richard’s role,” said Michael Fortino, who steps into the role of Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors. T

It was 2001 when the Players last did the show about a blood-thirsty plant. That was about the same time that a young Fortino joined the organization.  

“Richard gave me my start,” said Fortino, who has had an acting career beyond the Garden City, appearing in the Netflix hit Stranger Things, among other roles.

To make the show even more special, Fortino will be wearing a leather jacket that once belonged to Justice.

The piece was passed on to Vintage Ooollee after Justice’s death in 2020, and when Fortino went to the shop looking for a vintage leather jacket, Caren “Ooollee” Bricker smiled at him and told him she had just what he was looking for. Justice had bought it for his role in Grease.

“It’s a beautiful jacket, and it fits perfectly,” he said.

Having Fortino in the role with his connection to Justice is a heartwarming thing for the cast and for Fortino, said Scott Seidl, who is directing the show.

A rehearsal photo from Little Shop of Horrors. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

“Richard was such a dear friend and mentor” to him, said Seidl, who has a poster from the 2001 show hanging on his office wall looking down on him all the time.

Sean Moton is another cast member who will take fond memories of Justice to the stage with him.

“In 2001, I was the voice of Audrey II, and Richard Justice was Seymour. It was a great production,” said Moton who is reprising that role.

He’s loved the show since he was a kid, and he went into it the first time knowing the role was his

“I wanted it so badly,” he said. “It’s a pleasure to come back and do it.”

It’s one that doesn’t get old for Moton. This is the third time he’s performed it, and he said he can never age out of. As long as he has the voice, he could do it again in the future.

Little Shop of Horrors will be performed at 8 p.m., Oct. 6-7 and 3 p.m. Oct. 8 at the Imperial Theatre. For tickets, go here.

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at Sign up for the newsletter 

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