Ivoryton Playhouse's sixth production of their 2015 season is "Little Shop of Horrors" which is based on the 1960 Roger Corman film. It is a tongue in cheek musical comedy that will make you think twice about buying that potted plant and is one of the longest running off-Broadway shows. This musical version is by Harold Ashman and Alan Menken who also wrote Disney's "The Little Mermaid", "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin." Meek flower shop assistant Seymour Krelborn stumbles across a new breed of plant he names "Audrey II" after his his coworker crush. This foul-mouthed R&B singing carnivore promises unending fame and fortune to the down and out Krelborn as long as he keeps feeding it blood! Over time though Seymour discovers Audrey II's out of this world origins and dastardly intent on world domination. We find out the plant has a hidden agenda in this boy meets girl, plant eats world campy musical comedy set in the 1960's. Director Larry Thelen, musical director Robert Tomasulo and choreographer Apollo Smile lead this marvelously talented cast as they act, sing and dance their way into the hearts of a very appreciative audience on a fun-filled journey to Skid Row in New York City.
Larry directs and blocks this show splendidly from start to finish. He picks the best performers to fit each of these roles. I last reviewed his terrific direction of "La Cage" at Ivoryton Playhouse last August. Robert leads his four piece orchestra while playing lead keyboards with many varieties of songs including a calypso song, rock and roll songs, doo-wop, early Motown, an Elvis type number and a tango. The final touches to this show are the dance steps Apollo supplies to the Urchins who do many Supremes type dances, and an hilarious tango between Seymour and Mushnick. The fantastic set is by Martin Marchitto while the multitude of costumes are by Violet Blake.
Nicholas Park is hilarious as the nerdy Seymour. His sympathetic klutz wins the audience over at the start of the show and keeps you entertained all night long. The audience roots for him to win the girl of his dreams and to hopefully control this overbearing monster of a plant he created. Nicholas displays his strong character voice in all his numbers especially impressive is his duet with Audrey, "Suddenly Seymour" as well as in "Grow for Me" and it really soars in "Feed Me" and in "Meek Shall Inherit." He also displays strong comic acting chops in this role and is very lovable as Seymour. Laura Woyasz does an excellent job as the ditsy dumb blonde, Audrey with a Betty Boop type voice. She is a gorgeous gal with a powerful voice which she uses to perfection in "Suddenly Seymour" duet with Nicholas as well as in the wistful and beautiful ballad "Somewhere That's Green." This is where she wishes to escape Skid Row into an ideal sitcom setting of a house and a white picket fence. Laura makes her Ivoryton debut in this role and what a stunning debut it is. She and Nicholas have excellent chemistry together.
The three urchin girls are fabulously played by La'Nette Wallace, Azzaria White and Danielle Marie Gray. They are like a Greek chorus set in Brooklyn, who comment on what is happening. They all have powerhouse voices that will mesmerize you with their perfect three part harmony in ''Little Shop", "Ya Never Know" and ''The Meek Shall Inherit" as well as stop the show with their strong acting and dancing prowess, too. Another powerful voice is Steve Sabol who stops the show as The Puppet with "Feed Me" and in "Suppertime" with the splendid puppeteer recent U Conn puppetry program graduate, Austin Costello. The continual growth of the plant is amazing and has to be seen to be believed.
David Conaway plays Mushnick, the flower shop owner. He mistreats Seymour until he realizes the value of the exotic plant and decides to adopt him as a son. David displays his voice in "Mushnick and Son", the tango duet with Nicholas. His standout moment occurs when he imitates Tevye from "Fiddler on the Roof" which leads to much laughter. One of the biggest scene stealers in a show of scene stealers is Carson Higgins who not only plays Orin, the sadistic dentist but a variety of other characters including Berstein, Mrs. Luce, and Snip Snap. His song "Be a Dentist" is an Elvis type of number complete with swiveling hips and pelvic thrusts with the three urchins as his backup singers. Carson is a hoot and is dynamic in all his roles as the quick changing characters in "The Meek Shall Inherit" with the audience easily identifying each of the three different characters he's portraying. So for a brilliant and entertaining evening, be sure to catch the fun filled "Little Shop of Horrors" at the gorgeous and historic Ivoryton Playhouse where Katherine Hepburn got her start in show business. Tell them Tony sent you and be sure to hurry up before Audrey II takes over the whole world. One of the shows next season will be the popular "Man of La Mancha" starring David Pittsinger who just played Emile in "South Pacific" in July.