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Port Coquitlam actor perfecting 'New Yawker Tawk' for Arts Club role

Ashley Wright, a Port Coquitlam Senior Secondary grad, is Mr. Mushnik in the Arts Club Theatre production of "Little Shop of Horrors."

Ashley Wright may be in Vancouver, but he's doing a lot of "New Yawker Tawk."

For the past three weeks, the graduate of Port Coquitlam Senior Secondary — now Terry Fox — has been working with a dialect coach from New York City to perfect his accent for a role in an upcoming Arts Club Theatre Company production.

From Sept. 7 to Oct. 8, Wright will portray the cranky old Jewish shop owner Mr. Mushnik in the musical Little Shop of Horrors on the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage.

After the run, the show heads to The Citadel Theatre in Edmonton for five weeks.

Played in the 1986 film by Vincent Gardenia, Mr. Mushnik is a stock New York character who runs a flower shop on skid row.

He breaks the news to his employees, Seymour and Audrey, that the business is going downhill, so Seymour finds a way to make it a success: by finding a blood-thirsty plant as a attraction.

The comedic rock musical was a "cult hit" after it opened Off Broadway in 1982 "and it's been going strong ever since," said Wright, whose Mushnik is featured on the tunes "Ya Never Know," "Closed for Renovation" and "Musknik and Son."

Wright is best known by Arts Club audiences for having played Eddie in Cost of Living and Stan in the Canadian premiere of Sweat.

In 2016, Wright reprised his part as Sir John Falstaff in the Bard on the Beach's The Merry Wives of Windsor. In 2013, he received a Jessie Richardson Theatre Award nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role for the 2012 version.

The Arts Club Theatre Company's Little Shop of Horrors is based on the film by Roger Corman, with music by Alan Menken and lyrics from Howard Ashman.

It's the inaugural show for the Arts Club's 2023–24 season, which is directed by Ashlie Corcoran and stars Tenaj Williams as Seymour and Synthia Yusuf as Audrey.

"The nostalgia for this classic piece is strong," Corcoran said in a news release.  

"Little Shop of Horrors features incredibly catchy music, sharply drawn characters and a sense of silliness and sly humour. There is a reason it is often cited by folks as their favourite musical — it’s definitely one of mine."

The Arts Club Theatre Company's production of Little Shop of Horrors plays at Vancouver's Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage (2750 Granville St.). Tickets from $39 are via

Showtimes and special performances

  • Evenings
    • Tuesdays to Thursdays, 7:30 p.m.
    • Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m.
  • Matinees
    • Wednesdays, 1:30 p.m.
    • Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m.
  • Sunday Salon
    • Sept. 17, 2 p.m.
  • Talkback Tuesday
    • Sept. 26, 7:30 p.m.
  • VocalEye Performances
    • Oct. 1, 2 p.m.
    • Oct. 6, 8 p.m.