Little Shop of Horrors: Show explores the darker side of the human condition.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Photo: Maria Vartanova

Little Shop of Horrors
Book and lyrics by Howard Ashman
Music by Alan Menken
Theatre Kraken
Directed by Don Fex

Frequently referred to as a cult musical, Little Shop of Horrors delivers as much blood and gore and almost as many bodies as Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Funny but too frightening for the younger set to be called family entertainment, the book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, with music by Alan Menken (the team responsible for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin) combines a tentative romance, an abusive relationship and a dictatorial blood-sucking plant in a somewhat unpleasant morality tale. (Be careful what you wish for. The end does not justify the means. Even bad guys deserve fair treatment. Take your pick.)

Theatre Kraken, says Little Shop of Horrors director Don Fex, selected the 1982 musical, because it fits the group’s mandate of exploring “the darker side of the human condition.” So it does as it goes from the tough life on Skid Row to the blooming of a previously near-bankrupt florist’s, when the timid assistant and amateur botanist, Seymour, rears a strange plant that needs blood to thrive.

With musical director Chris Lucas at the helm of the lively, five-piece band, the Theatre Kraken production explodes onto the stage as the trio of urchins (Allison Harris, Victoria Luloff and Brenda Solman) sets the musical scene.

Andrew Galliagan, who played Seymour at this performance, captures the spirit of the shy and downtrodden shop assistant, while the always-reliable Lawrence Evenchick turns in a stellar performance as his grumpy boss. One of the funniest moments in the show is a flash of the Hora (the type of circle dancing associated with Jewish celebrations).

Zoe Towne, who played Seymour’s love interest, Audrey, on this occasion, fully understands the need to demonstrate her character’s low self-esteem and fragility, but occasionally fades because of it. She sings sweetly, although she is periodically overwhelmed by the band’s crescendos.

Meanwhile, Nicholas Dave Amott delivers a punchy performance as her abusive dentist boyfriend. He also offers a fine contrast through the several other characters he portrays.

And the anti-hero of the show, the nasty plant Audrey II, created by designer Grace Solman, manipulated by puppeteer Rachel Rumstein and voiced by Lucas, dominates the stage as she grows. Little wonder that the program notes advice more than once against feeding the plants.

Theatre Kraken’s production of Little Shop of Horrors continues at the Gladstone to April 22.

If you want to see a particular actor playing Seymour, Audrey or Orin, check who will be performing when booking tickets.

 

Director: Don Fex

Music director: Chris Lucas

Choreographer: Brenda Solman

Set and puppets: Grace Solman

Lighting: John Solman

Sound: Jason Sonier

Costumes: Amanda Logan

 

Cast:

Seymour……………………..Kodi Cannon (alternate: Andrew Galligan)

Audrey………………………Andrea Black (alternate: Zoe Towne)

Orin et al…………………….Nicholas Dave Amott (alternate: Axandre Lemours)

Mushnik……………………..Lawrence Evenchick

Audrey II (voice)……………Chris Lucas

Audrey II (puppeteer)……….Rachel Rumstein

Crystal……………………….Allison Harris

Ronette………………………Victoria Luloff

Chiffon……………………….Brenda Solman

 

Band:

Conductor……………………Chris Lucas

Keyboard 1…………………..Mark Allen

Keyboard 2…………………..Kenny Hayes

Guitar………………………..Corey Thomas

Bass………………………….John Corkett

Drums……………………….Trevor Curtis


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