Little Shop of Horrors
By Howard Ashman and Alan Menken
Presented by Amdram Theatre, Whanganui
Directed by Colin Hedivan
Reviewed by Paul Brooks
What a show! I could leave it at that and everyone who has seen the Amdram production would agree.
It was a production that succeeded on all levels. From the technical details to what we saw on stage, it was a show worth seeing ... and hearing. The music was first class.
Little Shop of Horrors is a melodrama musical about a florist shop, the people in it and the strange plant that makes the shop famous. The plant is the star but it had a lot of outstanding support.
The play's story is told through dialogue and musical links and songs provided by a trio of street urchins called Crystal, Ronette, and Chiffon (Cypress Kani-Hurinui, Ali Gammeter and Abby Squire). Singing doo-wop style, the girls moved and sang beautifully. They had poise and musicality and full marks to choreographer Bee Kirk. Music was provided by Lynn Whiteside, Abby Livesay, Errol Christiansen, Greg Hatfield and Sam McLea and they didn't put a note out of place.
Owner of the florist shop was Mr Mushnik, played with drama by Dwight Ballard. He has two employees - Seymour Krelborn (Chris Pedley), who played the nerdy plant discoverer to perfection, and Audrey (Shaila Hawkins) who delivered a slightly understated performance in perfect contrast to the deliberate over-acting around her. Seymour is (secretly) in love with Audrey and names the plant Audrey 2 in her honour. Squiring Audrey and decorating her with bruises and abuse is the motorcycling dentist and sadist Orin Scrivello, played with aplomb and nastiness by Richard Leith. He's the villain of the piece.
And they can all sing!
Richard also plays five other parts, leaving him a little breathless at times after quick costume changes backstage. It adds to the humour.
Meanwhile, the plant requires an operator / puppeteer and a voice. The former is admirably performed by Phil Portland and the latter by Dylan Peterson (who also plays a wino ). The voice is AMAZING! From the moment the plant speaks - with echoes of Harlem crossed with Motown - the audience is enthralled ... and a little nervous. The man-eating vegetable on stage has a great voice, personality and some very cool moves.
Director Colin Hedivan had a great cast and he brought out the very best in them. They moved the story along with dialogue and song and kept the audience with them the whole way.
Around them the stage crew did their jobs seamlessly, moving the versatile set around between scenes, making sure the right microphones were on at the right time and illuminating everything with a gorgeous array of lighting.
Everything and everybody came together in this production to produce a set, a sound and a show sure to delight the most difficult of audiences.
Little Shop of Horrors plays at Amdram Theatre on September 22, 23, 29 and 30 at 7.30pm with a Sunday matinee on September 24 at 2pm.