Little Shop of Horrors

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken – A NODA review by Dee Sharpe

I had never seen the film or the play Little Shop of Horrors, so I did some homework prior to attending the production. What I read was a very peculiar plot, not really my thing at all, so I was not expecting such a delicious feast of a production. Graeme Muncer must be commended for his direction of this gruesomely comic musical which had touches of genius throughout.

The plot has downtrodden shop boy Seymour (Joshua Martello) working in a rundown florist run by crabby Mr. Mushnik (Jamie Collins.) Seymour is in love with shop assistant Audrey (Lucy Walker) who is in a relationship with sadistic, bonkers dentist Orin (Steve Emery.) Seymour discovers a peculiar plant which he names Audrey 2. The plant grows, and grows, bringing success to the shop by attracting fascinated customers. However, this good fortune has a major snag in that the plant thrives only on human blood.

The set design worked well, with the angled shop door, downstage left, allowing scenes inside and outside the shop, the shop window upstage, and floor space eventually monopolised by the bloated blood-ravenous Audrey 2.

I thought the cast, with their New York accents, were utterly convincing. Joshua was nerdish, weedy, lovelorn Seymour to a tee, juggling the demands of the voracious plant, the need to rescue Audrey from Orin and his conscience. Lucy Walker was naïve, ditzy, and a perfect blend of common and sweet. Jamie personified cantankerous, careworn yet sly Mushnik while Steve Emery’s insanely hilarious and sadistic Orin was macabrely captivating. He also had 3 comic cameo roles which he achieved effortlessly.

Alice Forward, Isabelle Cryer, Helen Fyles and Sylvie Ashthorpe as Crystal, Chiffon Ronette and Dionne sparkled as the narrating chorus, their expressive faces and wonderful voices stringing the story together with upbeat harmonies in a ‘doo wop’ style reminiscent of the Andrews Sisters of the forties or the Ronettes of the sixties. I loved their costumes, especially the matching suits and the polka dot dresses. They were backed, as were the other numbers in the show, by the talented orchestra that this theatre group is blessed with.  I must also mention the magnificently opulent ‘feed me now’ demands of Audrey 2 (Terry McMaster.)

This production had so many highlights. Particular favourites were Mushnik and Son – brilliantly choreographed –the Dentist’s Song and Skid Row; the response from my niece after this one was ‘I could feel the passion!’ However, every number was performed superbly, skilfully combining feel good and weird. This was a comical feast of a production that I enjoyed immensely.  Another triumph for Henfield Theatre Company.