LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORSLyrics by Howard Ashman, Book by Howard Ashman, Music by Alan Menken
Lakeside Community Theatre
Directors – David J. Wallis and Douglas Gill
Musical Director – Bryce Biffle
Choreographer – FaithAnn Jones
Stage Manager – April McCallum
Set Design – Benjamin Keegan Arnold
Lighting Design – Douglas Gill
Sound Design – Steven Eric Fisher
Costume Design – Brittany Dillon and Cierra M.C. Lopez
Makeup and Hair Design – Irvin A. Moreno
Proprieties Design – Elise Knox
Puppet Design – Martin P. Robinson
Benjamin Keegan Arnold – Voice of God
Carolyn Wirtz – Chiffon
Lendea Harris – Crystal
Lauren Carrico – Ronnette
Perry Goodwyn – Mushnik
Ashley Phillips – Audrey
Austin Cline – Seymour
Jon Christie – Derelict/Orin/Mrs. Luce
Juan M. Perez – WSKID DJ/Bernstein/Martin/Chorus
Joel Colquitt – Arthur Denton/Skip Snip/Chorus
Customers/Chorus – Brandie Woods, Kayley Reay, Joye Grube
Audrey II (Manipulation) – Thomas Sposito
Audrey II (Voice) – Hugh Lehman
Reviewed Performance: 8/2/2013
Reviewed by Eric Bird, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Little Shop of Horrors relates the story of Seymour, a lonely young man that works at Mushnik's Florist on Skid Row, a rundown shop in desperate need of some business. At that same shop is Audrey, a beautiful young blonde who is in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend. Seymour has hidden feelings for Audrey which becomes more apparent when he finds a plant that makes him much more noticeable and successful. Or so he thinks.
The musical premiered at the Workshop of the Players' Art Theatre on May 6th, 1982 and opened at the Orpheum Theatre, Off-Broadway, in July of that same year. The show won several awards including the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the Drama Desk Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award. The production ran for five years, closing in November, 1987 after 2,209 performances. Howard Ashman, the original director and author of the lyrics and book, was offered an opportunity to produce the musical on Broadway which he declined. He decided that the show belonged "where it was".
This production's choreography was designed by FaithAnn Jones and successfully got the actors moving. Though the choreography was kept basic, it was interesting, adding a fun dynamic to the numbers. The three dancing girls that narrated the action knew their choreography for the most part and were the ones dancing throughout most of the show, though at times they seemed uncertain as to what they were supposed to be doing. The choreography was good though the performance at times was lacking.
The set was very effectively designed by Benjamin Keegan Arnold with a very believable store set up. I especially appreciated the use of a store front window so we could see customers as they walked into and out of the store. There was also a very run down feel to the store which added believability within the context of the play. The set transitioned and upgraded as the store became more profitable which was good to see.
The lighting, designed by Douglas Gill, set a useful ambience for the different scenes and locations of the show. The lighting transitioned between warm and cool colors, depending on which feeling the show was portraying at the moment.
Sound design by Steven Eric Fisher was well done. The different sounds of gunshot, thunder and the dentist's drill adding an interesting reality to the performance. The drill, especially, made my skin run cold. The lack of mikes made it sometimes difficult to hear all that was being sung or said, though this was rare and far between.
The costumes, designed by Brittany Dillon and Cierra M.C. Lopez, worked extremely well for this production. There was 1980's casual business attire for the main characters with small changes depending on how well the shop was doing. The street urchins were dressed in 80's disco glamour. This was effective in showing a change in the characters and how they perceived themselves as well as the transition of the shop's success.
Irvin A. Moreno designed the makeup and hair designs and was very creative in the choices that he made. The bruise on Audrey's face was realistic and the show's overall image worked well for the characters within the plot.
Elise Knox designed the proprieties and it was obvious she had a good eye for detail. It was fun to see Mushnik blow dust off of the older register and to see how the props changed as the shop improved. At one point the little florist shop was being overrun with all of the plants, and the dentist's office equipment looked like they came from a museum, fitting the musical and its crazed dentist perfectly.
Austin Cline played the part of Seymour, the young man who finds the plant. Cline was great in his role, shinning especially during his performance in "Grow for Me", in which we see his interactions with the plant, and also during "Suddenly Seymour" when we see his love for Audrey. His interaction with the plant when it speaks to him was comical and added a fun dimension to his character. There were times, however, when it read that Cline was "performing" rather than "being" his character which made it difficult to imagine his performance realistically.
Ashley Phillips shone onstage in her role of Audrey. She was a delight, showing a character that dreams of "Somewhere That's Green" and who wants to be helpful as she sings with Audrey II in "Sominex/Suppertime". Her character was strong and I was awed by the strength of her voice as she sang; she could project! Phillips was both loveable and comical, with an incredible performance and an enjoyable personality. The shop owner was played by Perry Goodwyn who gave a good performance during the song "Ya Never Know" and throughout the show. He was realistic within the context of his character and showed fine acting skills. His singing was a bit off key at times and I felt that he could have gone further at times in the character choices he made.
Chiffon, Crystal, and Ronnette were played by Carolyn Wirtz, Lendea Harris and Lauren Carrico, respectively. Their intent is to guide us through different plot developments and the inner turmoil of various characters. They were fun to watch, though at times they were not unified, and occasionally one of them was just going through the motions with a dead expression on her face. This was distracting, but vocally they were amazing.
Jon Christie played the parts of Orin, Mrs. Luce, and the derelict, shinning especially during his portrayal of Orin, the crazy dentist. He was both creepy and hilarious during the song "Now (It's Just the Gas)", which gave him a great opportunity to show off his vocal and performance skills. It was difficult at times as he too was just performing instead of being the character which detracted from his performance. Overall, though, his performance was fun to watch, with his strong stage presence.
Audrey II was incredible during the performance. The puppetry was done by Thomas Sposito and Hugh Lehman did the vocals. Working together, Audrey II functioned incredibly well, making it an interesting and believable character. "Feed Me (Git It)" and "Suppertime" were among my favorite songs of the production.
Martin P. Robinson's puppet design was also well done and was a very important part to the set. The puppet on the set was believable in the performance, adding a fun dynamic and creating a constant ominous presence onstage.
Little Shop of Horrors at Lakeside Community Theatre will amaze you with the talent that it showcases. While there were some rough spots, the performers will delight with the musical's songs and the constant cry of "Feed Me"!
Lakeside Community Theatre
6303 Main Street, The Colony, TX 75056
Performances run through August 31st
***Little Shop of Horrors contains comic horror violence, mild language and sexual references. Parental guidance suggested for children under age 10.
Fridays –Saturdays (except August 10th) at 8:00 pm.
Saturday, August 10th matinee at 3:00 pm.
Ticket prices are $20.00, $17.00 students/seniors, $15.00 Lakeside theatre member.
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