The storyline of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s cult classic, Little Shop of Horrors, is well known. Mushnik’s flower shop is a haphazard, run down enterprise, which hasn’t had a customer walk through the doors in quite some time. Just as he is about to close his doors for good, his two shop assistants, Audrey and Seymour, whip out a strange and exotic plant in an attempt to drum up some business. The peculiar plant, named Audrey Two, requires a strict and demanding diet, which Seymour must supply to keep her alive and business flowing. A series of macabre events are set in motion, as the plant becomes progressively more demanding of Seymour.
With a demanding score of fast paced and high energy numbers, the ensemble are always impressively engaging, with what seemed like an endless supply of enthusiasm. The audience are guided through the mean streets of Skid Row by Chiffon (Vanessa Fisher), Crystal (Sasha Latoya) and Ronnette (Cassie Clare) with sassy ‘da-doo’s, fast paced and flawless choreography, and authoritative vocals. The girls pop into every sticky situation Audrey II generates for Seymour vocally narrating the strange happenings in a comedic and lighthearted fashion, with street urchin undertones.
Mushnik’s shop is situated in the middle of a caricature-like Skid Row, the central focus of the set, misshapen, rugged and full of mystery. With most scenes taking place inside or outside of the shop, the set interchanges quite regularly, with the shop’s interior ever changing with seamless alterations. Design was headed by David Shields and every aspect was outlandish and wonderful. In particular, the Audrey Two puppet is exotic and intriguingly life-like, which makes the plant all the more terrifying. The cast have a demanding set list throughout the production, led by a group of incredibly talented musicians.
Sam Lupton as Seymour is endearing and solid, with strong vocals, and he seems to spend very little time off the stage in both acts. It’s a challenging role which Lupton conqueres with ease. Stephanie Clift plays the delightful and naïve Audrey, and captures her innocent essence sincerely. Rhydian as Orin Scrivello DDS, Audrey’s sadistic boyfriend and dentist, is slightly over-exaggerated, but his vocals are incredible and his slow and strange demise eerie.
Every aspect of this production is entertaining and all-consuming.
Little Shop of Horrors is touring the UK at various dates until November 26.
Image by Matt Martin