Friday, May 15, 2015

"Little Shop Of Horrors" Is One Bloody Good Show--Now Showing At The James F. Dean Theatre

What does the 1980's musical spoof Little Shop of Horrors strangely have in common with the classic fairy tale story of Sleeping Beauty. Well, for one, the plot eerily includes someone pricking their finger, which in turn changes their life. Second, the script contains a boy falls in love with girl element, a cranky, demanding shop owner who adopts the boy to benefit himself, and a malevolent character with evil designs. But despite these similarities, the two diverge at their climax. There is no happily-ever-after for the Little Shop of Horrors. Although, the final analysis can be dependent on one's point of view. Whatever way you may see it in the end, you will be happy you came to the James F. Dean Theatre in Summerville because Little Shop of Horrors is a bloody good show.

With a story line loosely taken from a B-rated film of the 1960's bearing the same name, the musical Little Shop of Horrors is a wacky combination of comedy horror and rock musical--lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken; Alan Menken ironically has a Disney connection, but Sleeping Beauty was not one of his works. Ashman and Menken use a combination of rock and roll, doo-wop and early Motown music sang by a trio of street urchins to set the scenes and tell their story.

Set in the 1960's with a Skid Row backdrop, the character who pricks their finger is a down-and-out, socially inept employee of the run-down Mushnik's Skid Row Florists by the name of Seymour. Perplexed over the dire condition of a mysterious plant he had been caring for since coming into possession of it, he accidentally pricks his finger and in the process discovers what the plant craves--blood. The realization changes his life profoundly. Audrey II, named after a fellow employee Seymour has been secretly in love with, flourishes on Seymour's finger pricking's. As it grows, so does its appetite and its demands. Mushnik's flower shop also flourishes due to the plants fame and fearful of losing Seymour and the monetary benefits to other suitors, offers to adopt Seymour. With the help of Audrey II, Seymour gets the girl and unwittingly a whole lot more. In the end, the malevolent plant's evil design is revealed.

Director Jean Gaston and Company successfully synchronize a true winner. The plays eye-popping set and props are beautifully constructed and functionally serve the scene changes well. The sound system delivered the lines and numerous musical scores with a rich clarity.

The four Doo-wop Girls, Allison Brower, Tiffany Eliason, Chanel Mariette, and Alex Shanko, delivered their harmonies in Supreme style. In his usual high energy fashion, David McLaughlin showed his musical talent and was spot-on convincing as the nebbish Seymour. In her first production as a Flowertown Player, Elissa Horrell as Audrey will win you over with her quirky Jersey girl accent and affectionate smile--loved her delivery and vocals in Somewhere That's Green. Danny Jones was a dead ringer for a Mushnik and Tyler Reed was a gas as the obnoxious, abusive dentist, Orin. Tyler also played a host of other characters in the play.

The show stealing character, and rightfully so, was the blood-thirsty, talking Audrey II, which was a collaboration between Robert Venne and Daniel Rich. Robert artfully designed the plant and operated it through its various stages of growth and Daniel provided the deep, booming, voice--at times reminiscent of Otis Redding. Watching the flawless synchronization between the two of them was spellbinding. You are totally persuaded into believing the voice was coming directly from the plant, when in reality, it wasn't. That's how good Robert and Daniel were. Daniel also made a brief appearance in the beginning as a homeless person on Skid Row.

The play is loaded full of musical favorites with a 60's flavor such as Skid Row (Downtown), Mushnik and Son, Sominex/Suppertime, and my play favorite, Suddenly, Seymour.

The Flowertown Players close-out the 2015 season with another blockbuster hit. Little Shop of Horrors was both delightfully entertaining and comically humorous. Just plant yourself in a seat and it will grow on you. I guarantee it.

Purchase tickets at Flowertown Players Little Shop of Horrors.

8PM Shows May 15th, 16th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 28th, 29th, and 30th
3PM Shows May 17th, 24th, and 31st

Director-Jean Gaston, Musical Director-David McLaughlin, Asst. Director-Chrissy Eliason, Choreographer-Karyn Ellis and Tiffany Eliason, Stage Manager-Alex Skipper, Assistant Stage Manager-Adriana Melendez, Run Crew-Sarah Smith and Erik Brower, Set Design-Jason Olson, Set Carpenter-Ernie Eliason, Light Board Operator-Jeff Wolf, Lighting Designer-JC Conway, Costumer-Diana Reeves.

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