Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Little Shop of Horrors"

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note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Larry Stark


"Little Shop of Horrors"

Book & Lyrics by Howard Ashman
Music by Alan Menken
Based on the film by Roger Corman

Directed by James Tallach
Music Director Wayne Ward
Choreography by Donald Ray Gregorio

Vocal Arrangements by Robert Billig
Orchestrations by Robert Merkin
Puppets Designed by Martin P. Robinson
Assistant Director Linda Sughrue
Set and Lighting Design by John MacKenzie
Costume Design by Richard Itczak
Scenic Artist Michelle Boll
Sound Design by Alex Savitsky
Props by Robin Chamberlain
Stage Manager Christopher Teague

Chiffon..................Rebecca Lee Dennis
Chrystal.....................Robin Amendola
Ronnette.......................Tracy Nygard
Mushnik....................Ernesto Anguilla
Audrey...Kendra Kachadoorian/Anne Velthouse
Seymour..............Chas Kircher/Gary Ryan
Orin...............................Jon Popp
Voice of Audrey II.................Rob Case
Audrey Puppeteer............Daniel Kerrigan

ORCHESTRA
Keyboard.............................Wayne Ward
Drums............................Steve Jounakos
Acoustic Bass...Lisa Hudson/Bob Orr/Jon Wilkins
Guitar..................Kevin Coyne/Peter Evans
Conductor............................Wayne Ward

James Tallach has been a performer, a bar-tender, a ticket-seller, a stage-manager, and a director at Newton's Turtle Lane Playhouse. Now he has put together a winning team to make a solid, subtle, ringing production of "Little Shop of Horrors" to delight everyone through this holiday season.

At last night's opening, Kendra Kachadoorian and Gary Ryan were Audrey and Seymour --- Anne Velthouse and Chas Kircher will substitute at other performances. Jon Popp was the sadistic dentist --- and popped back repeatedly in dazzling quick-change cameos as "everyone else" in act II. Rebecca Lee Dennis, Robin Amendola, and Tracy Nygard were the chorus of Skid Row street urchins, Ernesto Anguilla the proprietor of the flower-shop, and Rob Case and Daniel Kerrigan were the team that brough Audrey II vividly to life. Wayne Ward got beautifully full-throated song from a cast vamping the rich 50's-pop score in Donald Ray Gregorio's body-language. When "Little Shop" works as well as it does here it's not a warhorse but a derby winner.

Some of these songs ("Suddenly Seymour" - "Somewhere That's Green" - "Dentist") --- themselves parodies of a "Da-Doo" triplet-heavy style --- turn my eyeballs into waterfalls, and this cast milk every tear and every guffaw as though the show were thirty days not thirty years old. Here the chorus sings in three sets of sumptuous Richard Itczak costumes, rather than lounging as pieces of the set. The set itself, by the team of Painter Michelle Boll and Designer John MacKenzie (Who did lights as well) has levels and scrims and curtains, and a flower-shop that, more than a setting for a talking plant, looks like a tacky disaster becoming lushly successful with its new pot-bound visitor.

The cast --- with the choristers jumping into the action --- makes genuine people of these characters, with quickly brittle quips, subtle glances, and full-throated songs. Audrey II is a trip, and Popp's doomed dentist, like the others, rattles the walls with center-stage performances.

Theater is alive and well at Turtle Lane

Love,
===Anon.
( a k a larry stark )

"Little Shop of Horrors" (17 November - 17 December & 26 - 29 December)
TURTLE LANE PLAYHOUSE
283 Melrose Street, NEWTON MA
1 (617)244-0169

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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