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Music by: Alan Menken, Lyrics by: Howard Ashman
Based on the film by Roger Corman with screenplay by Charles Griffith

Granbury Theatre Company

Director—Jay Lewis
Assistant Director—Josh Leblo
Music Director—Caitlan Leblo
Choreographer—Eden Barrus
Fight and Intimacy Choreographer—Jonah Hardt
Scenic Design—Jay Lewis
Costume Design—Colton Lively
Props—Maddie Almond and Levi Casler
Lighting Design—Hank Baldree
Sound Design—Trey Johnson

Seymour Krelborn—Joe Dobbs
Audrey—Juliette Wood
Mushnik-Jonah Hardt
Orin Scrivello (D.D.S)—Austin Bender
Ronnette—Sofi Warren
Crystal—Mudibu Rita Nsumbu
Chiffon—Alyssa Melton
Audrey II (voice)—Freddy Martinez Jr.
Audrey II (puppet masters)—Kendrick Booth, Levi Casler, Gavin Clark

Ensemble—Alvaro Aguilar, Micah Chesney, Reagen Deming, Tyler Krumm, Renee Maynard, Jacob Myers, Dandelion Nance, Jennifer Nickell

Reviewed Performance: 9/22/2022

Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

A perennial favorite of community and educational theaters, Little Shop of Horrors has been making audiences laugh since 1982. From off-Broadway to Broadway, and even a film version starring Rick Moranis in 1986, “Little Shop” as it is often dubbed by Theatre aficionados, continues to charm audiences with its humor and commentary on morality, fame, and fortune in our society. Based on the 1960 comedy film, “The Little Shop of Horrors,” (featuring a young Jack Nicholson), the musical continues to be a favorite of audiences, especially around Halloween. I can’t think of a better show to usher in the “spooky” season, than Little Shop of Horrors.

The musical has been parodied in all sorts of mediums over the last thirty years. From the extra-smart and gifted students in “Malcolm in the Middle” nicknamed the “Krelborns” to Chris’ evil talking pimple pressuring him to commit evil acts, and a disturbing rendition of “Somewhere That’s Green” sung by Herbert the Pervert, both brought to audiences from the delightfully irreverent animated sitcom, “Family Guy.” Even the very-dated 1980s sitcom, “Head of the Class” starring Howard Hesseman as teacher Charlie Moore, “directed” his own version with the students in his class. No matter the medium, Little Shop continues to delight audiences and has since its inception on the Off-Broadway stage in 1982. I have even heard rumors of a new film adaptation that closely follows the original musical-unlike the Rick Moranis version from 1986. As an ardent fan, I am ready.

Set in the early 1960’s (technically, the 23rd day of the month of September, in an early decade not too long before our own), the story follows nerdy botanist Seymour Krelborn, and his new “strange and interesting” plant that appeared during an unusual total eclipse of the sun. Seymour soon discovers that his little Venus Fly Trap (affectionately called the Audrey II, after Audrey, fellow flower shop employee and crush of Seymour) feeds and thrives only on human blood. Seymour is forced to choose between fame, fortune, and ethics. Coincidentally, the 23rd day of the month of September is also this week. I will make sure not to buy any strange and unusual plants this week, and also steer clear if there is a “total eclipse of the sun.” But, I digress. Read on.

Director Jay Lewis brought together a wonderfully talented ensemble cast that worked well together and collaborated with a crew who clearly took their jobs seriously and knit together design elements that enhanced the story being told by these eccentric characters. The overall vision of the production was executed well. As I have come to expect with many productions at Granbury Theatre Company, the music direction, and the choreography were stellar. Music, under the direction of Caitlan Leblo, and Choreography, under the leadership of Eden Barrus was not only impressive in skill and was visually stunning. I was transported to the early days of the 1960s when DOO-WOP and girl groups dominated the Billboard Charts. It is apparent that Leblo and Barrus collaborated with Lewis like a well-crafted machine and brought a classic back to life on the stage at Granbury Opera House.

Scenic designs were done by Director, Jay Lewis. The scenic designs were phenomenal! I was instantly transported to the stereotypical street of “Skid Row,” -a place where the cabs don’t stop, where the food is slop, and the hop heads flop in the snow, in Downtown-down on “Skid Row.”

As soon as I stepped into the theatre, I was impressed with how Lewis took the main location of “Skid Row,” and pushed it out past the proscenium with a brick wall, a door to a building, and a stairway to bring “Skid Row” closer to the audience. Lewis really was able to work a bit of intimacy into this design, while bringing the audience into the world of the production. I was very much in awe when I saw the brick wall open up, as Mushnik’s Skid Row Florist was pushed horizontally downstage. It was almost like pure magic. The transitions were completed with ease, and with little hesitation. This really added to the mystery surrounding Mushnik’s Florist, and the “strange, and unusual plant” (Audrey II) that was suddenly bringing in more customers than Mushnik had ever seen before.

I always enjoy seeing double-level sets, and this production created the absolute illusion of multi-story buildings in an urban Downtown setting. As previously mentioned, the stage left egress was disguised as a door and stairway for the local street urchin, Crystal, Ronnette, and Chiffon-the trio of girls who appear in the story, and also, mysteriously serve as the foreshadowing narration for events to come. I feel like it worked well with the story, even though I was sad to see the beautiful architecture of the 1894 Opera House hidden. It was a fantastic way to extend the setting out to the audience and provide another area for staging for a medium-sized cast. Seeing the “trio” girls in the three narrow windows was beautiful. It really framed their characters and was such a nice homage to the original girl groups of the 60s.

Other areas that were provided as suggestions for the setting included an extremely creepy and “dirty” dentist’s office, the home of Dr. Orin Scrivello, D.D.S. From the “antique dental chair” and sadistic dental tools, to the splash of blood across the cabinets, one could not help but feel down in the mouth. What a terrible pun. But a great playing area for Orin, nonetheless.

Costumes were designed by Colton Lively. The clothing was indicative of the specific time, but also served the exact purpose required by costumes, to set time and place, and to visually represent the personality and motives of each character. I especially loved the sparkly silver dresses worn by Crystal, Chiffon, and Ronnette in “The Meek Shall Inherit.” It screamed DOO-WOP to me, and I couldn’t help but picture The Supremes in my head. What an incredible image! For those that have read my reviews before, you might know that I am a sucker for all things sparkly! Other “trio” girls’ costumes were straight out of the closet of the early ’60s. I loved the plaid school girl dress, and the rolled jeans reminiscent of cigarette pants that gave women an opportunity to express themselves in a new way with the dawn of the 60’s.

Joe Dobbs was incredibly believable in the role of Seymour. Through facial expression, body language, and incredible comic timing, Dobbs convincingly portrayed the nerdy, yet loveable Seymour. Dobbs never faltered in his delivery, and all interactions with other cast members were believable and spot on. His voice was most impressive. Mr. Dobbs was able to fill the space with his wonderful singing voice. You might find it interesting to know that Dobbs is in his sophomore year as BFA Major in Acting from Texas Christian University. All I can say is, “WOW.” Dobbs certainly has the ability to portray mature roles on stage and has the vocal talent to thrill audiences. I certainly felt for his character, as he went through the ups and downs of sudden fame, fortune, and impending loneliness.

Juliette Wood was fantastic in the role of Audrey. Ms. Woods brought down the house with her renditions of “Somewhere That’s Green” and “Suddenly Seymour”, perhaps two of the most recognizable and beloved songs of the show. Wood successfully nailed the role of Audrey, the ditzy blonde who has bad luck with men. Ms. Wood had some beautiful, yet humorous moments on stage, and was able to belt out some of the numbers with great enthusiasm and charisma.

In the role of Mushnik, was Jonah Hardt. What a performance from Mr. Hardt! From an ultra-impressive vocal range, playing his strengths with comedy and comic timing on stage, and an outstanding and strong stage presence, Hardt was able to take the role of Mushnik and easily make him one of the most memorable on stage. The energy was always heightened when Hardt was on stage, and Hardt was most enjoyable to watch. I am impressed with Hardt’s wide range of talent. Mr. Hardt was recently seen in “The Sound of Music” as Captain Von Trapp, and Felix Unger in Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple.” Quite a different set of characters. Hardt is incredibly believable in the role of Mushnik.

As the vicious and brutal dentist, Orin Scrivello was played by Austin Bender. This is one of my favorite roles in “Little Shop,” and easily has one of the most recognizable songs “Dentist!” (Which I will openly admit that I will sing to myself and my son ANY time we have to visit the dentist) and one of the most difficult songs, lyrically, with “Now (It’s Just the Gas).” This song reminds me of an old-fashioned opera buffa song with the call and response in different melodies, sung at the same time. Bender provided his own bit of fiendishness to the role and was absolutely perfect for the part. His performance was spot-on.

Bringing down the house was Freddy Martinez Jr. in the vocal role of Audrey II. Mr. Martinez Jr. really got into the doo-wop and Motown groove with his songs. He provided a phenomenal sense of comic timing and worked very well with Mr. Dobbs. I greatly enjoyed “Feed Me (Suppertime).” It was evident that Martinez Jr. had a fun time playing the role and brings that element of amusement to the stage.

However, it should be mentioned that some of the magic and mystery of the production was lost due to Mr. Martinez Jr. being visible on stage during the production. I wholeheartedly believe that the function of having puppets in any production is to have the audience believe and accept the fact that the puppet is an actual character, and not manipulated and voiced by actors.

In any production, the goal is to have a “willing suspension of disbelief,”-where audiences suspend any morsel of reality and accept what is happening on stage. The character of Audrey II is so iconic, it was really a shame to have Martinez Jr. on stage, and visible. I found it to be distracting, and all I wanted to watch was his performance as Audrey II, instead of Audrey II interacting with the characters in the story. While as a Thespian, it had entertaining moments for me to see Mr. Martinez Jr. approach the role, and incorporate some amazing facial expressions, overall, it was so much of a distraction that it really took me out of the moment. I have to wonder if this was done with a specific purpose in mind. Was it to ready to allow the puppet manipulators and voice-over to ebb and blend as one, working in tandem with each other? Because if this was the choice, it, unfortunately, in my humble opinion did not translate and land across the stage boards and onto the audience. Thereby robbing me of much of the “stage” magic to sustain the imaginary “fact” of a soulful plant giving deadly orders to a nerdy Florist clerk.

This production of Little Shop of Horrors is worth seeing. Whether you are a novice or veteran musical theatre lover, Little Shop of Horrors is certainly one you need to add to your repertoire of productions. Overall, it was an entertaining production. The variety of talent on stage mixed with the energy, enthusiasm, and pacing from the ensemble provides a fun experience at the theatre. I encourage you to take a trip to Granbury Theatre Company and see Little Shop of Horrors. It is the perfect show to celebrate the beginning of the Halloween season, and a classic of modern musical theatre… remember, whatever you do, “Don’t Feed the Plants.”

Granbury Theatre Company
Broadway on the Brazos
133 E. Pearl Street. Granbury, Texas 76049
Plays through Oct. 16.
Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2:00 pm
Floor $35 - Balcony $30
Discounts are available for seniors (aged 65+), active duty military/veterans, and children/students.
Group discounts are available through Box Office at (817) 579-0952.
To purchase tickets, visit