Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Little Shop of Horrors"

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entire contents copyright 2001 by Tony Annicone

"Little Shop of Horrors"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Pawtucket Community Player's third show this season is "Little Shop Of Horrors" about a people eating plant. Under the direction of Brian Mulvey, the music direction of Lila Kane and choreography by Karen Gail Kessler, these 9 talented cast members act, sing and dance their way into the hearts of the audience. They take you on a fun filled journey to Skid Row in New York City with the right amount of technical handiwork needed to pull it off.

Brian casts the roles very well and the acting in the show is top notch. Lila Kane not only is the music director but she plays keyboard, conducts her two fellow musicians and makes the solos, duets, trios and choral numbers soar. Karen provides the clever dance steps for the Ronnettes (think Supremes) and the entire cast, making them pop up and into scenes surprising and pleasing the audience. Costumes by Erika Koch and the composite set fit the time period of the 60's perfectly. (The multitude of costumes Erika supplied for the 3 girls is amazing and well done.)

Michael Templeton is wonderful as the nerdy Seymour. He makes him a likeable klutz from the opening and carries it off beautifully. This young man also has a great singing voice which he displays in "Grow For Me" and in all the numbers he's in. Michael's interactions with the other cast members sparkle showing what a talented kid he is especially his scenes with Audrey and the plant.

Justine Johnson plays the ditsy blonde bombshell, Audrey. She finally realizes she loves nerdy Seymour after being battered by her sadistic dentist boyfriend. Justine uses her voice well in "Somewhere That's Green" and makes her dying scene funny when she tells Seymour to feed her to the plant. She does a nice job as the dumb blond in the show.

The Ronnettes are played by Christina Mouradjian, Kami Crary and Kelly Crawford. These three women can sing, act and dance at the same time. They are like a dancing and singing Greek chorus with Brooklyn accents commenting on each scene. Each girl has a powerful and beautiful voice and their harmonies blend in their "Little Shop", "You Never Know" and "The Meek Shall Inherit" numbers. You go girls!

Veteran actors Dan Gerstenlauer ( Mr. Mushnik) and Richard Blue( the dentist and other roles) bring a lot of energy and experience to their roles. Dan has a perfect Jewish accent as the plant shop owner. His yelling at and bossing Seymour around is very funny as is his death scene. Dan and Michael do a tango that breaks up the audience in their duet. Richard plays the evil girl beating dentist strutting around clad in a black leather jacket and pants. The laughing gas death scene is hysterical when he can't remove the mask. Richard changes his accent and costumes for the other roles including Mrs. Luce from Life magazine. (Some costume changes are so quick you have to blink to make sure it's the same person playing the role.) Splendid job. The biggest scene stealer in the show is the Audrey 2 plant and the credit goes to two people, the voice (David Almeida) and the man inside the puppet (Tucker McNulty). The show is brought to a halt the first time the plant talks and moves. Dave gives the voice the right amount of cunning and threatening bravado. He sings both "Feed Me" with Seymour and "Suppertime" perfectly while Tucker is moving the plant in time with the voice. Especially hilarious is when the plant swallows its victims, Tucker has the plant chew, swallow and stand up to digest them. Great job on his first time on stage. The 4 victims reappear as the petals in the finale, "Don't Feed the Plants" capping off this madcap musical about a plant.

"Little Shop of Horrors" (till 6 May)
Jenks Jr. High School Auditorium, 151 Division Street, PAWTUCKET, RHODE ISLAND
1(401) 726-6860

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide