Academy Player's first show of their 51st season is "Little Shop of Horrors" which is based on the 1960 Roger Corman black and white film. 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 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 Kami Crary and musical director Stephen Decesare 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.
Kami adds seven chorus members to the cast to play roles of people in the city and their additional voices help to boost the sound in the chorus numbers. She gives the whole cast a lot of shtick to do during the show, providing many laughs while Stephen on the keyboards and his 3 piece orchestra provide the perfect musical accompaniment in many various song types including a calypso song, an Elvis song and a tango. Stephen also conducts the orchestra and taught the 3 part harmony in the urchins songs. Jason Hair-Wynn plays the leading role of Seymour and also choreographed the show. He is hilarious as the nerdy, klutz and his sympathetic portrayal wins the audience over at the start of the show. His wonderful singing, dancing and acting keep you entertained all night long as he struggles to win the girl of his dreams while trying to control this overbearing monster of a plant he created. Jason's powerful voice soars in his songs including "Grow for Me", "Don't It Go to Show You", "Mushnik and Son" and "Suddenly Seymour". His dance numbers are splendid especially the tango to "Musnik and Son" and the finale, "Don't Feed the Plants". Alicia Marie Rivera is wonderful as Audrey, the ditsy blonde who is in love with a semi-sadist Dentist. She is a gorgeous gal with a powerful voice which she uses in "Suddenly Seymour" duet with Jason as well as in the beautiful and wistful ballad, "Somewhere That's Green" where she wishes to escape from Skid Row into an ideal sitcom type setting of a house with a chain link fence. Alicia's comic death song tugs at your heartstrings while keeping you in stitches. Excellent job by both leads in this show.
The three urchin girls are played by Shannon Glazer, Kristeen Kates amd Hayley Woodbine. They are like a Greek Chorus set in Brooklyn who comment on what is happening in the show through their many songs in lovely three part harmony. These three women have powerful voices which they use in "Little Shop", "Skid Row", "Da-Doo", "Ya Never Know" and "The Meek Shall Inherit". They also have many funny lines and interact well with the other characters, too. The voice of the plant, Audrey II is Carl Desimone. His wonderful 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. Ben Lovejoy, a senior at East Greenwich High School, is Audrey II's puppeteer. He operates the plant while it is singing, dancing or chewing up one of its victims and is quite a sight to behold. Ben provides many humorous moments as Audrey II.
Steven Bartholomew plays Musnik, the flower shop owner. He mistreats Seymour until he realizes the value of the exotic plant and decides to adopt him as his son. Steven shows off his voice in "Musnik and Son", the tango duet with Jason. (Both of them are superb dancing in this number.) He also has a topnotch Jewish accent for the role. The sadistic dentist and girlfriend beater is played by Neil Santoro who is a hoot in the "Dentist" number which is an Elvis type of song with Neil in tight leather pants and dental jacket. He and the three urchins do a wonderful job as they play his backup singers. Neil's death scene is hysterical when he can't remove the gas mask and he also plays other roles in the show including a Jewish man, Mrs. Luce owner of Life Magazine, a cockney man and a Brooklyn man. The first three roles are done in the song "The Meek Shall Inherit" where he has some quick costume changes as these three character. The fourth character appears near the end of the show where he takes clippings of the plants to be sold throughout the world. Jason, Alicia, Neil and Steven appear as flower petals in the "Don't Feed the Plant" song while cast members dance around the stage as 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.