Little Shop of Horrors

Written on June 1st, 2019

Little Shop of Horrors Provides More Laughs than Horror!  

Following on the fantastic popularity of The Rocky Horror Show on the Avon stage last year, Stratford Festival plans to attract the same crowd with another horror musical.  They should be successful because this production of Little Shop of Horrors is presented with the same creativity and hilarious campy acting as its predecessor.

Little Shop of Horrors is about a plant with a big mouth that feeds on human blood and bodies.  You need to know that before you go.  Several years ago, when I first saw Little Shop of Horrors, patrons sitting behind us were caught off guard and found it quite disgusting when the plant started devouring human limbs.  They left at intermission.  What they failed to appreciate was the crazy comedy that redeems the gory tale.

The hapless nerd, Seymour, works in Mr. Mushnik’s flower shop on skid row, along with the perky, sweet Audrey who completely lacks self-esteem.  Seymour has a big crush on Audrey, so when he develops a new plant species, he names it Audrey II, and lovingly refers to it as Twoie.  Something akin to a Venus Fly Trap, Audrey II craves blood and soon there are Band-Aids on all Seymour’s fingers.  The plant grows and demands more.

The real Audrey has a cruel boyfriend.  He’s a dentist/sadist who bullies, belittles, and beats her.  It’s easy for Seymour to justify feeding the nasty dentist to Audrey II.  But the plant wants more, and on it goes.  We sometimes talk about how everyone dies in the end of a Shakespearean tragedy.  Stratford Festival has found a musical to fit the pattern.

This production is a standout thanks to the robust singing voices of the entire cast.  André Morin as Seymour and Gabi Epstein as Audrey show their vocal talent throughout the performance.  In particular, their duet “Suddenly Seymour” is a powerful tribute, and shows off their vocal range.

The trio that steps in narrate the story through song are all robust singers:  Vanessa Sears as Ronnette, Starr Domingue as Crystal, and Camille Eanga-Selenge as Chiffon belt the harmonies with great energy.

Dan Chameroy, who stole the show last year as Dr. Frank N. Furter, is back as the evil dentist.  Chameroy gives the dentist an Elvis flair, swinging his hips along with his nitrous oxide.  He is the first person that Audrey II devours, but don’t worry, Chameroy is back in act two as a myriad of crazy characters.  He gets laughs with his skills as a quick-change artist.

Steve Ross is hilarious as Mr. Mushnik along with an excellent ensemble, some playing multiple rolls, and all with perfect comedic timing.

Go prepared to see a bloody mess.  Then sit back and appreciate the powerful singing and uproarious comedic acting that will make Little Shop of Horrors another Stratford hit.

Little Shop of Horrors continues in repertory until November 2 at the Avon Theatre, Stratford.  Tickets are available at the Stratford Festival at 1-800-567-1600, or check www.stratfordfestival.ca

Photo: Gabi Epstein as Audrey and André Morin as Seymour Krelborn with Audrey II.  Photo by Chris Young.

Little Shop of Horrors – 2019
Book and Lyrics by Howard Ashman
Music by Alan Menken
Based on the film by Roger Corman, screenplay by Charles Griffith
Directed and Choreographed by Donna Feore
Musical Direction by Laura Burton
Performed by André Morin, Gabi Epstein, Steve Ross, Dan Chameroy, Vanessa Sears, Starr Domingue, Camille Eanga-Selenge, et al
Stratford Festival Production
Avon Theatre, Stratford
May 31 to November 2, 2019
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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