The unknown theatre companies adaptation of the classic little shop of horrors was cleverly crafted to be a homage to both the film and the musical as well as being unique enough to keep the audience of the edge of their seat.
Personally I am very familiar to the story as I have watched the film numerous times and also performed in it at high school and so I had many convinced ideas of how this theatre company would do everything but actually ever single of my preconceptions were wrong to make this show a very fun and also at times surprising show. From the casting choices to the songs within the musical, this company had carefully considered the audience’s familiarity with the story and tweaked it to make for a one of a kind show.
The show started with the cast slowly walking on to the stage (while the curtains were opening and the house lights were still on) and taking a seat in what appeared to be a movie theatre. While this was nice as it was a clear homage to the fact that a lot of people will only know of the little shop because of the film and not the musical, it also allowed them to play the iconic voice over. This was a logical way to include the voice-over which shows how much the creative team understand the franchise as a whole and how to fit in the parts that people recognise in a new and unique way. My concern with this scene was that the entire cast was wearing orange based clothing which in the real world doesn’t make sense. In terms of the real world, it was as if there was a dress code for the cinema which never happens and so this was very confusing. A similar concept was used towards the end of the musical where it was revealed that everyone was wearing green to signify the spreading of the Audrey 2 which was perfect and made logical sense. This was an ingenious use of colour (which whoever managed costumes should be praised for) whereas the orange version of this at the beginning of the musical wasn’t partially clear.
In general the vocals in this show were amazing. Every single person sounded great and clearly, the musical director (Sioned Evans) worked incredibly hard to get everyone to this high level. I can honestly say that I have never heard a chorus sing so crisply and together in an amateur production before.
One of the lead characters in this musical was Seymour who was played by Andrew Machin. Andrew fitted this role perfectly and portrayed the meekness of Seymour excellently. On top of his great acting, he was also able to sing at a very high standard. A song that truly showcased both Andrews acting and vocal talent was the song ‘Grow for me’ which was incredibly performed and was one of the highlights of the show. Seymour was dance a ‘sort-of’ solo during ‘closed for renovation’ where he danced behind a sing which was matched Seymour’s character as well as being very clever choreography wise which was a testament to Michelle Kay who was the official choreographer for this show. The dance allowed for the set to be changed and distracted the audience so that when the busy shop was revealed it was a surprise to the audience. This dance number was excellently planned and performed which did exactly what it needed to. Audrey, played by Carly Griffin in this production, was also fantastic and had the sense of softness and innocence that is synonymous with the character. Her singing was also incredible, in fact, Suddenly Seymour was so emotional that it moved many to tears. These two characters worked excellently together and clearly have great chemistry on and off stage.
One of the most interesting characters in the little shop musical is the dentist (orin skevellio) who in this production was played by David Millard. When David first appeared on stage I thought he looked to approachable and friendly to play the villainous dentist but David managed to completer shatter my thoughts during the dentist song. He was able to get so much hate for the character from the audience that when he meets his demise the audience is okay and not affected at all. He was also able to perform ‘now (it’s just the gas)’, which was a duet with Seymour, in a very hilarious manner that had the audience laughing throughout. Being able to balance the dark side of the character while still being able to make the audience laugh it a very difficult skill that demonstrates David’s acting versatility.
The character of (Mr) Mushnik was actually was playing a female called Charlotte Bloomfield which was a unique casting choice that I personally had never seen before. The role was changed to be Mrs Mushnik which did cause a lot of confusion for certain actors as the kept saying the wrong pronouns, which Audrey 2 actually suffered from a lot. The role was performed well but at the time was, in my opinion, too shouty and shrieky towards Seymour which was at times hard to watch. I understand the character is supposed to give Seymour a hard time but sometimes the shouting was painful to listen to. This may be just me but this character was given almost a stereotypical Jewish mum style twist on it which made for some very interesting interactions between her and Seymour (think Howard’s mother off the Big Bang theory.)
The highlight of the production had to be Kat Baker who played Audrey 2. I have to be honest when I read that a woman was playing the role of Audrey 2 I was sceptical but Kat was able to completely change my mind. She owned every inch of the stage and her singing was absolutely incredible. In the production I was apart of the plant was just voiced rather than having an actual physicalisation but after his performance, I really want to see more people being a physical plant. The character was similar to Ursula (from The Little Mermaid) but with the vocals of the neared lady (from the greatest showman.) This show cast chorus members being Audrey 2’s vines which actually worked really well.
Overall, this is a product perfect for this Halloween season after all that is more scarier than a murderous plant 😉 This show had incredible vocals and also was hilarious in certain points while being a unique interpretation of the classic story. I would rate this production 3 and a half stars and would encourage anyone who is familiar with the Little shop film or musical to see this show before it leaves!