On the hottest night of the summer, the New Wimbledon Theatre was packed last night for the opening of Sell A Door Theatre’s new touring production of Little Shop of Horrors. This tongue-in -cheek horror spoof based on a 1950s B-Movie has gone from strength to strength and it now a classic cult musical.
Set in a failing flower shop in downtown America, Mr Mushnick’s shy and clumsy assistant Seymour Krelborn is tending a strange an interesting plant that he came across at the wholesale flower district. Seymour is concerned that the plant which he has named Audrey II is not doing well, but none of the conventional horticultural methods work until eventually Seymour discovers the secret that makes Audrey II thrive and grow (and grow and grow). The magnificent and unusual plant swiftly becomes a sensation and brings the flower shop and Seymour overnight fame and success but this all comes at a heavy price.
Sam Lupton takes the on the role of gawky Seymour, he is just right for the role portraying the fine balance between an incompetent nerd and a guy willing to do literally anything for the love of his life Audrey. Fans of previous productions or the 1986 film will have seen Audrey played as a brainless sap with a squeaky baby voice, however Stephanie Clift gives a much more believable and human performance and in so doing reaches out to the audience rendering her far more likeable and deserving of Seymour’s admiration.
Audrey is stuck in a relationship of domestic abuse and longs for ‘Somewhere that’s Green’ and a nice guy like Seymour. The developing relationship between Lupton and Clift is fun to watch and they have great chemistry together particularly when performing their duets; ‘Suddenly Seymour’ and ‘Call Back in the Morning’ were highlights of the show.
The star casting is Rhydian as the sadistic Dentist, Orin Scrivello who is Audrey’s boyfriend and abuser. Despite being on all the publicity posters, the part of the dentist is confined to only two or three scenes, to compensate for this Rhydian is given a few cameo roles in the second act which were delightfully hammed up. It is clear the Rhydian is enjoying every moment yet unfortunately doesn’t have time to develop the roles and Orin in particular lacks fiendish ruthlessness, although I must say his laugh is very infectious.
Music and lyrics are written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman who went on to write the scores of several Disney classics including The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. The songs are catchy, humorous and have a 1950s Motown feel to them, it is no co-incidence that the 3 piece chorus characters are called Crystal, Chiffon and Ronnette. Sasha Latoya (Crystal), Vanessa Fisher (Chiffon) and Cassie Clare (Ronnette) perform in total harmony and add brazen sass to Matthew Cole’s slick choreography.
The cast do an admirable job battling the heat, but my heart went out to Josh Wilmott who was responsible for bringing the massive Audrey II to life. It must have been sweltering inside that huge plant costume. Neil Nicholas added the final touches by giving Audrey II his deep soulful voice, so rich that it would be hard to deny the plant it’s supper when asked.
Sell-a-Door Theatre have created a compact crowd pleasing touring show, full of energy and promise. I am sure that it will have a successful tour and I look forward to seeing it grow and grow (a bit like Audrey II really).
Directed by Tara Wilkinson
Choreography by Matthew Cole
Musical Supervisor : Mark Crossland.
Reviewer : Sammi O’Neill
Photo credit : Matt Martin
☆☆☆ – Blooming Good fun – Recommended.