note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Beverly Creasey
“Don’t Feed the Plant” is the warning you’ll take home from LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS because, as fans of the carnivorous cactus know, its next meal could be you! It’s all in fun, mind you. LITTLE SHOP is a hilarious spoof of ‘50s sci-fi movies crossed with those earnest ‘boy meets girl’ musicals from back then.
One local company tried to vary the formula recently, sending the audience home with a different message: “Don’t Need the Plant”—but it just didn’t work without the actual flourishing venus fly trap. It turns out you do need the plant to keep it silly. Otherwise LITTLE SHOP becomes SWEENEY TODD.
The Turtle Lane Playhouse gets the tawdry tale exactly right, with just the right dose of naivete and chutzpah to make it thrive. Director James Tallach gets wonderful performances from Tracy Nygard, Robin Amendola and Rebecca Lee Dennis as the cheery chorus of dowop sisters and best of all, are Kendra Kachadoorian, as the sweetest of dumb heroines (And can she sing!) and Gary Ryan as her not so swift sweetie. (The leads are double cast but I can’t imagine a more adorable duo than Kachadoorian and Ryan.)
Jon Pop plays just about everyone else, including the sadistic dentist both Jack Nicholson and Steve Martin made famous in the movies and Ernesto Anguilla is the ambitious proprietor of the shop. Wayne Ward’s orchestra rocks, Richard Itczak’s gowns for the Motown girls practically dance by themselves, even without Donald Gregorio’s smart choreography on John MacKenzie’s nostalgic skid row set. LITTLE SHOP was never my favorite musical but lately, and please pardon my pun, it’s been growing on me.