Stage manager Claire Mellon must have loved this choice of musical, since it involves the construction of a growing man-eating plant, which can bring down the whole show if it doesn’t work. But she took on the challenge and the resulting Audrey II is an inventive construction operated by five members of the cast (with Finlay McAfee taking the lead vocal). It is cultivated by Seymour (Greg Williamson), who works in a failing flower shop and uses the plant to bring him fame, fortune and ultimately Audrey (Alice Anning), the girl of his dreams. But Audrey II has other ideas.
Williamson plays Seymour well – geeky and a bit clumsy he looks very much like Rick Moranis from the film adaptation. His vocal is less to shout about, straining for the top notes in Grow For Me. Anning is a shy and awkward Audrey, but ultimately comes across a bit amateurish. Her voice in Somewhere That’s Green can hold its own but ultimately doesn’t have much to say – it needs some depth and vibrato to spice up this otherwise slightly bland song. Audrey II by comparison is in no way shy or awkward. With all five cast members working together well, the plant is a sinister and devious character – each of the cast has a sadistic and slightly crazed expression that is reflected in the plant’s unhinged characterisation. McAfee’s voice is deep and soulful but his vocal doesn’t quite stack up and his low notes often miss the mark.
The great successes of this production are Crystal (Giselle Yonace), Ronette (Lydia Carrington) and Chiffon (Sarah Couper). As the show’s resident backing singers, they carry themselves with class, sass and an assortment of tips and tricks to guide the rest of the cast along. Vocally their harmonies blend smoothly together and even isolation each can hold their own. Crystal in particular has a soulful and powerful voice complete with diva attitude, definitely one to watch in the background as she reacts to Audrey’s insecurities or boyfriend Orin’s (Craig Methven) crazy temper.
Despite the strength of the backing group, the overall production feels a bit lacklustre. The cast don’t take advantage enough of the inherently ridiculous plotline. This is an excuse to go creatively mental, completely certifiable and ridiculously over the top; the cast are just too sensible for this musical.
Little Shop of Horrors plays at Paradise in Augustine (venue 152) until August 30 as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more information, visit the Fringe website.