LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS
Music by: Alan Menken, Lyrics by: Howard Ashman
Based on the film by Roger Corman with screenplay by Charles Griffith
Richardson Theatre Centre
Director –Rachael Lindley
Music Director—Deborah Key
Set Designer –Ron Hoff
Lighting Designer – Wyatt Moore
Sound Designer – Richard Stephens, Sr.
Costume Designer – Sakura Brunnette
Seymour—Micah B. Hardt
Skid Row Residents—Brad Bowden, Anthony Magee, Cheray Williams
Orin—Carlos Manuel Cadena
Audrey II (voice)—Brad Bowden
Audrey II (manipulation)—Russell Sims
Reviewed Performance: 10/18/2019
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.
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.”
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 his ethics.
Director Rachael Lindley brought together a small and 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 or the production was executed well.
Having only been to Richardson Theatre Centre once a few years ago, I remembered that it was a smaller space, but I had forgotten how intimate the space was. Seating roughly 75 (give or take) seats. Sometimes, this can be a blessing and a curse. My first thought was “how are they going to set and stage this typically large production in such a small space.” My first visual impression of the space and the scenic design (designed with delicacy and functionality by Ron Hoff) was impressive. Everything that needed to be present was there. From Mushnik’s drab flower shop on urban Skid Row, to the exterior street scenes, and the suggestion of a dentist office. Mr. Hoff used a symbolic amount of green in the flower shop, and I was impressed with the amount of texture the exterior brick buildings brought to the stage. Overall, the given space was used effectively, and helped to tell the story.
However, it should be mentioned that some of the magic and mystery of the production was lost because of the size of the space. I believe that a large part of the story comes from the air of mystery surrounding Audrey II, and some of the unexpected disappearances of the characters throughout the story. Be prepared to be up close and personal with all aspects of the production in this performance space.
Costumes were designed by Sakura Brunnette. I felt that costumes were the weakest design aspect of the production. The clothing was never indicative of the specific time, and appeared to be ill fitting. The majority of the actors’ on stage had apparent difficulties moving during choreography. It may not have been so obvious in a larger space, but being so up close and personal with the actors exposed audiences to some of these occurrences. There were some inconsistencies with the wardrobe and the time seemed to jump from year to year, which (at times) left it difficult to follow.
Micah B. Hardt was incredibly believable in the role of Seymour. Through facial expression, body language and incredible comic timing, Hardt convincingly portrayed the nerdy, yet loveable Seymour. Hardt never faltered in his delivery, and all interactions with other cast members were believable and spot on. His voice was most impressive. Mr. Hardt was able to fill the space with his wonderful singing voice.
Laura Jennings was fantastic in the role of Audrey. Ms. Jennings brought down the house with her renditions of “Somewhere That’s Green” and “Suddenly Seymour”, two of the most recognizable and beloved songs of the show. Ms. Jennings successfully nailed the role of Audrey, the ditzy blonde who has bad luck with men. Ms. Jennings had some beautiful moments on stage, and was able to belt out some of the numbers with great enthusiasm and charisma.
Bringing down the house was Brad Bowden in the vocal role of Audrey II. Mr. Bowden 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. Hardt. I greatly enjoyed “Feed Me (Suppertime).” It was evident that Mr. Bowden had a fun time playing the role, and brings that element of amusing entertainment to the stage.
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. There were some noticeable problems with vocal pitch, but I am confident that these will be worked out as the production gains momentum, and gets further into the production run. I encourage you to take a trip to Richardson Theatre Centre, and see Little Shop of Horrors. It is the perfect show for Halloween, and a classic of modern musical theatre. Hurry, time is limited, and then it goes back into the musical theatre vault until the next time.
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS
Richardson Theatre Centre
518 W. Arapaho Road, Ste 113
Richardson, Texas 75080
Plays through November 3.
Thursdays at 7:30 pm
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm
Sundays at 2:30 pm
Ticket prices range from $20-$22 depending on day.
For information go to www.richardsontheatrecentre.net, or call the box office at 972-699-1130.