LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS
Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Wednesday 26th October, 2016
Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s classic musical crops up like a hardy perennial and it’s always worth a revisit. Ashman’s lyrics are clever and witty, while Menken’s score is bursting with energetic, catchy tunes. It’s a combination that proves irresistible and this touring production from Sell A Door Theatre Company serves the material superbly.
Sam Lupton gives a star turn as nerdy flower shop assistant Seymour whose botanical tinkering leads to a Faustian pact with a mean, green mother from outer space. Lupton is in excellent voice and makes us care about his Seymour. Stephanie Clift is sweet as bubbly shop girl Audrey, a damsel in distress who can also belt out a number. Her ‘Somewhere That’s Green’ is a highlight, as is her duet with Lupton, ‘Suddenly, Seymour’. Audrey’s abusive dentist boyfriend Orin Scrivello shows TV talent show star Rhydian can also act – he seems to be having a lot of fun and, of course, he gets to show off his impressive vocal stylings. He gives a highly charged performance – he’s a gas! Paul Kissaun entertains as the kvetching shop owner Mr Mushnik – there’s more than a hint of Reb Tevye here! – while Neil Nicholas gives carnivorous plant Audrey II a deliciously dark chocolate soulful sound. The plant is a sinister, looming presence, a reckoning that has to be faced.
Sasha Latoya, Vanessa Fisher and Cassie Clare form a formidable trio, acting as a kind of Greek chorus to the action and keeping the 60s soul groove going. Musical director Dustin Conrad and the band are the heart driving the show, pumping energy from start to finish.
Director Tara Louis Wilkinson gives us fun with moments of comic horror – the gore is hinted at rather than depicted. David Shields’s design adds to the heightened, cartoony feel of the piece but I find some of the lighting cues need to be tighter – this was the show’s first night in this venue so I’ll let them off!
The show has currency in today’s world of fears of genetically modified plants that could devastate life as we know it. Above all, though, this is enormous fun delivered by a company that is a cut (or should that be ‘cutting’?) above the rest.