Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Little Shop of Horrors"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"Little Shop of Horrors"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Theatre by the Sea's third show of their 77th season is the musical "Little Shop of Horrors" which is based on the 1960 Roger Corman film. The musical had its world premiere on May 6, 1982 and opened off-Broadway on July 27, 1982. The show was critically acclaimed and won several awards including the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical, and the Outer Critics Circle Award. It closed on November 1, 1987, after 2,209 performances, making it the third longest running musical and the highest grossing production in off-Broadway history. It is the story of Seymour Krelbourn, a meek Skid Row florist who makes a pact with a tiny plant to win the heart of Audrey, the girl he loves. Soon money pours in because of this strange and unusual plant, making Seymour into a celebrity. But behind the glamour and fame lies a secret Seymour can't reveal. The plant's favorite food is human blood. The plant might have a hidden agenda in this boy meets girl, plant eats world campy musical comedy set in New York in the 1950's. Amiee Turner directs the show wonderfully, adding new twists and turns to the familiar tale on a fun filled journey to Skid Row.

Theatre by the Sea owner and producer Bill Hanney, Producing Artistic director Amiee Turner and Managing Producer Joel Kipper spare no expense to make this a wonderful show with the Nazo puppets as the plant. Amiee directs and blocks this show wonderfully on the splendid set designed by Bert Scott. She gives her cast a lot of shtick to do as these comical characters. Musical director Tim Robertson not only conducts his 5 piece orchestra but plays lead keyboards for the show and taught the cast the wonderful harmonies throughout the show which include doo wop, rock and roll and early Motown type numbers. I last reviewed Tim's work at TBTS in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 2007 and Anything Goes in Pawtucket in 2004. Ann Cooley recreates many of the dances of the 60's including calypso,tango, cha-cha, the swim and an Elvis type dance The funniest is the tango between Seymour and Mushnik. Guy Olivieri is comical as the nerdy, klutzy Seymour. His portrayal wins the audience over from the start of the show, keeping you entertained all night long as he struggles to win the girl of his dreams while trying to control this monster of a plant he created. Guy's voice soars in his songs including "Grow for Me", "Don't It Go to Show", "Mushnik and Son", "Closed for Renovations" and "Suddenly Seymour". Katerina Papacostas is wonderful as Audrey, a ditzy red head with bad taste in clothes and in love with a semi-sadist dentist. She is a gorgeous gal with a beautiful voice which she uses in "Closed for Renovations", "Suddenly Seymour"' and the wistful ballad, "Somewhere That's Green". The latter song describes how she wants to escape Skid Row into an ideal sitcom setting and find a home with a chain link fence. Her line about wearing cheap and tasteless outfit got the biggest laugh in the show.

The three urchin girls are played by Angela Williams who I reviewed in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" as the Narrator at TBTS in 2000, who sings the lead in "Don't It Go To Show", Rheaume Crenshaw and Kerri Alexander. They are like a Greek chorus set in Brooklyn who comment on what is happening in the show with their many songs in fantastic three part harmony and their dances are reminiscent of the Supremes. These three girl's powerhouse voices are heard in "Skid Row", "Da-Doo", "Ya Never Know" and "The Meek Shall Inherit". They also have many one liners and interact beautifully with the other characters, too. The voice of the plant, Audrey II is Donovan James Carey. His fabulous baritone voice sells the rollicking duet "Feed Me" with Seymour as well as in the menacing "Suppertime" where the plant wants to eat everyone in sight. Nazo Puppets designed the four different size plants with the largest one operated by a hydrolic lift. As Audrey II's puppeteer is Evan Price who operates the plant while it is singing, dancing or chewing up one of its victims and is quite a sight to behold. Evan provides many humorous moments as Audrey II. Joel Briel is dynamic as Mushnik, the plant shop owner with a humorous Jewish accent. He mistreats Seymour until he realizes the value of the strange and exotic plant, deciding to adopt him as his son to collect all the money pouring in. Joel shows off his terrific voice in "Mushnik and Son" doing a hilarious tango with Guy. He also shows off a few Tevye type moves in the dance section of this song. The sadistic dentist and girlfriend beater is played by Trinity Conservatory graduate Timothy John Smith. He is funny in the "Dentist" number as this Elvis type character complete with black leather jacket, black pants, black boots and white dental shirt. The dentist's death scene is hysterical when he can't remove the gas mask. He also plays three other characters including Mr. Bernstein, a NBC agent Mrs. Luce, the owner of Life Magazine and Skip Snip, a William Morris agent using different voices and accents while singing "The Meek Shall Inherit"."Don't Feed the Plant" is sung at the end of the show by the whole company where Timothy with a Russian accent and an eye patch tells the three urchins to take clippings of the plant to be sold throughout the world. Press night isn't complete without the sumptuous buffet at Bistro by the Sea prepared by Duane Crowe and his lovely wife Carleen. The goodies included meatballs, pasta, salad, bread and better with assorted desserts including carrot cake. Be sure to catch this musical treat before Audrey II devours the world.

"Little Shop of Horrors" (14 July - 1 August)
THEATRE BY THE SEA
@ 364 Card's Pond Road, MATUNUCK RI
1(401)782-TKTS

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