Theatre Mirror Reviews - "A Funnny Thing Happened on The Way to The Forum"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2011 by Tony Annicone

"Little Shop of Horrors"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Rhode Island Stage Ensemble's fall production is "Little Shop of Horrors" which is based on the 1960 Roger Corman black and white film. The musical is a spoof of those 1950's sci-fi movies. It is the story of Seymour Krelbourn,a down and out meek Skid Row florist who makes a pact with a tiny plant to win the heart of Audrey, the girl he loves. Soon money comes pouring 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. This plant definitely has a hidden agenda in this boy meets girl, plant eats world campy musical comedy set in the 1950's. Director Chris O'Neill infuses the show with high energy from start to finish and uses multimedia to show clips of old movies and TV shows with commercials from the 1950's. He and musical director Derek Doura lead this talented cast on a merry romp on this fun filled journey to Skid Row in New York City and win the hearts of the audience along the way.

Chris adds chorus members to the cast to play roles of different people in the city and their additional voices display the harmonic blend of the songs. Musical director Derek taught the cast the clever songs and directs a topnotch 5 piece orchestra. The dance numbers by Angela Mendez are splendid especially the tango to "Mushnik and Son" and the finale, "Don't Feed the Plants".Tim Crepeau plays the leading role of Seymour. He is phenomenal in this role, playing it as if the show was written for him. He is hilarious as the nerdy klutz and his sympathetic portrayal wins the audience over from the start of the show. His terrific singing, dancing and acting keep you entertained all night long with Tim as Seymour struggling to win the girl of his dreams while trying to control this overbearing monster of a plant he created. His powerhouse tenor voice soars in his songs including "Grow for Me", "Don't It Go to Show You", "Mushnik and Son" and "Suddenly Seymour". The latter one stops the show with its power and delivery. Gorgeous blonde Alyssa Gorgone plays Audrey, the ditzy gal who is in love with a semi-sadist dentist. She shows off her powerful voice in the beautiful and wistful ballad, "Somewhere That's Green" where she wishes to escape from Skid Row into an ideal sitcom setting of a house with a chain link fence. Alyssa also does a splendid job in the duet with Tim, "Suddenly Seymour". Her Betty Boop voice is hilarious. Alyssa's comic death song tugs at your heartstrings during it. Excellent work by both leads in this show.

The four Doo Woop girls are played by Jacqueline Alexander, Emma MacDonald, Audrey Crawley and Courtney Pritt. They are like a Greek Choraus set in Brooklyn who comment on what is happening in the show through their many songs in lovely harmony. These four women have powerful voices which they use in "Little Shop", "Skid Row", Da-Doo", "Ya Never Know" and "The Meek Shall Inherit". They have many funny one liners and interact beautifully with the whole cast especially impressive is Jacqueline's scat singing in several numbers which show off her powerhouse voice. The voice of the plant, Audrey II is Jason Quinn. His fantastic baritone voice sells the rollicking duet "Feed Me" with Seymour as well as in "Suppertime" where he wants to eat everyone in sight. Audrey II's puppeteer is Matt Neto He operates the plant while it is singing or chewing up one of its victims and is quite a sight to behold. Jason has many humorous moments as the plant. Tim Ferron plays the plant when it is small.

Shelly Whittle has a topnotch Jewish accent as Mushnik, the flower shop owner. He mistreats Seymour until he realizes the value of the exotic plant and decides to adopt him as his son. Shelly shows off his voice and dancing skills with Tim in "Mushnik and Son", the tango. This song is a show stopper. The sadistic dentist and girlfriend beater, Orin is played by Joshua Fontaine. He is a hoot in the "Dentist" number which is an Elvis type of song with Joshua in tight leather pants and a dental jacket. His death scene when he can't remove the gas mask is very comical. Three comic characters show up to make Seymour famous in "The Meek Shall Inherit". They are Roger MacDonald as Bernstein from NBC, Laura Westfall as Mrs. Luce, owner of Life Magazine and Darnell Nash as Skip Snip, the William Morris agent. The fourth character to show up to take clipping of the plants to be sold throughout the world is Patrick MacDonald played by Michael Rai. The whole cast dances around the stage during "Don't Feed the Plant" song with the poisonous flowers. Kudos to everyone who made this a successful show. So for a trip back to the 1950's, be sure to catch "Little Shop of Horrors" before Audrey II devours the world.

"Little Shop of Horrors" (28 - 30 October)
@ Stadium Theatre, 28 Monument Square,WOONSOCKET RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide