Little Shop of Horrors

The Bridewell Theatre, 24-27 September 2008
Book by Howard Ashman
Music by Alan Menken
Based on the 1960 movie Written by Charles B. Griffith and directed by Roger Corman

 
Little Shop of Horrors is a rock musical about an insatiable carnivore plant that takes over the world. Set in urban Skid Row, New York, the storyline sees the plant owner Seymour Krelborn grow from a poor, penniless, hapless orphan to an American nationwide sensation, all at a rather hefty price. This is an extremely fun, off-Broadway hit show based on the black comedy 1960 film bearing the same name.

 
Cast
Edo Avraham – Seymour Krelborn
Nicola Young – Mrs Mushnik
Josie Cousin – Audrey
Orin Scrivello, DDS – Ben Gill
Paul Harper – Audrey II (The Plant)
Gill James – Chiffon
Laura Nunn – Ronnette
Emma Stott – Crystal
Annie Roberts – Mrs Luce
Raquel Romero – Mr Bernstein
Angela Phillips – Skip Snip
Clair Rava, Rachel Clark, and David Oliver – Chorus

 
Production Team
Clive Stott – Director
Graham King – Musical Director
Jane Marr, Nicky Copeland – Choreography
Richard Hogg – Lighting Designer
Neil Renaud – Lighting Operator
Ed Borgnis – Sound Designer
Leela Patchai, Mark Pearce – Sound Operator
Giles Burden – Stage manager
Sarah Dingwell – Deputy Stage Manager
Maureen Johnson – Assistant Stage Manager
Liza Saunders – Props
Amy Lesuma, Phive Ea – Costumes & Make-up
Helen Savvides, Jane Marr, Heather Mullins, Louise Jenkins, Nicky Copeland – Front of House Team

 
The Band
Graham King – Keyboard
David Barnes – Percussion
Russell Davis – Bass
Clive Stott – Guitar
 

Synopsis/Review
The story opens at struggling Mushnik’s Florists, where the proprietor Mrs Mushnik is about to close down. Mushnik’s shop assistant Seymour finds a “strange and interesting new plant” he calls Audrey 2 after fellow assistant Audrey, played by the excellent Josie Cousin. Soon, Seymour learns that Audrey 2 grows bigger and bigger by feeding it human flesh, and Mushnik’s business is revived by increasing interest on the gigantic Audrey 2. This makes a very rich Seymour that can go anywhere with his world-wide famous plant. Realising this and the danger of returning to a decaying business if Seymour leaves, Mrs Mushnik suddenly proposes to adopt Seymour who, as an orphan with no family, is flattered by this proposal and accepts it, without realising Mrs Mushnik’s true motive.
As Seymour, Edo Avraham had to win the public’s sympathy whilst remaining comical. Exploited by the greedy Mrs Mushnik, the audience took pity on Seymour while Audrey fell in love with him. All this was despite Seymour’s cluelessness and clumsyness. A very well done to Edo!

Audrey’s character, played by Josie Cousin, was spot on. With a rather tacky fashion sense, Audrey is the victim of violence by her sadistic boyfriend, while her heart belongs to Seymour who is also in love with her. This all gets revealed after the mysterious disappearance of Audrey’s boyfriend, Orin.
Nicola Young (Mrs Mushnik) has a tough role in entertaining the audience and appearing to be funny when in fact she is a rather ruthless, heartless character that takes advantage of a poor orphan like Seymour and then preys in his naivety in order to keep him and his wealth. An outstanding performance!
Orin Scrivello, played by Ben Gill, is Audrey’s sadistic boyfriend. Again, a tough performance that makes a great fun act out of a rather horrible creature that preys on Audrey’s vulnerability. It is this very reason that makes us forgive Seymour when he refuses to help Orin in his final moment, before accidentally gassing himself to death.

The people eating plant Audrey 2 came in three sizes. Luis Frontana managed the motions well with the pot size Audrey 2 versions, though he required some help later as Audrey 2 grew to a colossal size! The rather well coordinated movements of the plant matched the vocals, which were played by Paul Harper to absolute perfection, reproducing a jazzy voice and a tough attitude that go very well with the overall show.
Chiffon, Ronnette and Crystal, respectively played by Gill James, Laura Nunn and Emma Stott, were the three street-wise girls who, rather than the rough attitude shown in other LSOH versions, possessed more cheeky personalities thus making them more “liked” by the audience. They were also the only ones who knew all along what was going on. The girls transformed themselves from their scruffy looks at the beginning of the story into their glam image as Mushnik’s business picks up and they grab a few dollars here and there. Their joint roles were coordinated well, especially when, at the overture of the show, they appear from amongst the audience to make their way into the stage.

Mrs Luce, Ms Bernstein and Skip Snip were played by Annie Roberts, Raquel Romero and Angela Phillips. These were small parts of various publicity business people seeking to contract Seymour to make money out of him and his plant Audrey 2. The three characters showed their characters’ personalities well, with a very fluffy Mrs Luce, a very entrepreneurial Skip Snip, and an out-and-about Bernstein.

Clair Rava, Rachel Clark, and David Oliver – filled various parts that were small but with lots to do scene-wise, including all chorus lines, setting the scene of a rundown Skid Row and adding tremendous humour sense to the “Closed for Decoration” and “Show Finale” scenes.

The band, directed by Graham King, did such magnificent job that many audience members thought of the soundtrack as a playback! Placed in the mezzanine level of the theatre, the band was mostly not visible to the majority of viewers, and this will be borne in mind when preparing the next show as the band is the most important feature to highlight in any musical. In the odd moments where an actor goes blank or a line is said ahead or behind time, it is always the band that fills the gap in a musical production. Special thanks go to Graham (keyboards) and his team: Clive Stott (guitar), Russell Davis (bass) and David Barnes (percussion).

The cast, band and technical staff worked well together, and this reflected on some very good reviews in general, with only a disappointed critic writing in. There were a few improvement areas that were highlighted and such points will be observed in any future productions.

Overall, and despite any negative feedback which we do take very seriously, the show was extremely enjoyable and the entire team managed to produce a show that, although amateur in nature, made people have a rather enjoyable time. We heard lots of laughter cracking in the audience all four nights the show run, and ultimately we had a fantastic time and cannot wait to work on the next production.