Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Little Shop of Horrors"

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note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Carl A. Rossi


"LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS"

book and lyrics by Howard Ashman; music by Alan Menken
based on the film by Roger Corman with screenplay by Charles Griffith

directed by John Ambrosino
choreographed by Josie Bray
musical direction by Bob Mollicone

Chiffon … Heather Fry
Crystal … Emilie Battle
Ronnette … Sehri Wickliffe
Mr. Mushnik … Eric Ruben
Audrey … Erin Tchoukaleff
Seymour … Christian Daniel Kiley
Dr. Orin Scravello … Jim Jordan
Audrey II … Neil Graham

Plant Dancers:
Erin Pellechia, Christin Fagone, Maria Larossa

Ensemble:
Erin Pellechia, Christin Fagone, Maria Larossa, Perri Lauren

Orchestra:

Conductor; Piano … Bob Mollicone
Guitar … Eric Millard
Bass … Nick Tatarka
Drums … Ben Tileston

The musical LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, based on Roger Corman’s cult horror film, is an offbeat gem --- indeed, there’s no other musical like it: Seymour, a shy nebbish, works in a Skid Row flower shop and is in love with his co-worker Audrey, a dumb-bunny blonde whose taste in men leans towards the masochistic. After a solar eclipse, Seymour discovers a small, mutant version of a Venus flytrap which he christens “Audrey II” after his lady love, but the only plant food the saw-toothed creature lives on is human blood. “FEED ME!” it relentlessly cries, and Seymour obliges with his own red cells. Man and Plant soon become media celebrities and Seymour Gets the Girl but as Audrey II grows, filling the shop with its cavernous maw, Seymour must resort to other ways to keep it alive --- in true Faustian fashion, he loses more than just his soul in the end. Thanks to Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s catchy, rock ‘n’ roll score, LITTLE SHOP’s horror is blunted and a good time can be had by all but be warned: the stage ending is different from the later film version.

Those who know and love this musical may be disappointed with part of the Animus Ensemble’s production: instead of the familiar giant puppet-plant dominating center stage, there is an actor in a green T-shirt, mugging and writhing, assisted by three dancers who presumably are his tendrils; the plant’s victims, once consumed, become part of the writhing. (Is this a deconstruction of a not-so-old musical or simply a shoestring budget?) There is some compensation in Neil Graham having the correct dark-humored soul-voice required for the role but if I may tweak one of the show’s lyrics, it sure looks like rehearsals to me… Fortunately, the human characters are onstage longer than the plant is and here the production succeeds with a nicely sung, quirky-sweet ensemble, especially Christian Daniel Kiley and Erin Tchoukaleff as the star-crossed lovers. Mr. Kiley wisely plays Seymour as a Holy Fool instead of a Nerd or a Geek which goes a long way towards keeping audience sympathy on his side and Ms. Tchoukaleff endearingly gargles Audrey’s lines and soars whenever they turn into lyrics. They’re a cute couple --- like Audrey II, you could just eat them up.

"Little Shop of Horrors" (6 - 21 October)
ANIMUS ENSEMBLE
Boston Center for The Arts, 539 Tremont Street, BOSTON MA
1 (617) 933-8600

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