To many theatre and film fans alike the mention of multi award-winning composer Alan Menken invokes images of gallant Princes and beautiful Princesses wrapped in Disney-esque love stories, but a “Mean Green Mother from Outta Space” – are they sure they have that credit right…?
Sure enough Little Shop of Horrors - although a lesser known Menken work, with book by Howard Ashman – is a rock and roll beast of a show based on the 1960 black comedy of the same name, and boy did the cast of the Sell A Door company do it justice on the current UK tour!
The story follows Skid Row botanist Seymour Krelborn as he hopelessly pines over escaping his impoverished life and fleeing Mushnik’s failing flower shop with the love of his life: his completely oblivious co-worker Audrey. Upon discovering a strange and interesting new species of plant – which he calls the Audrey II - his luck begins to change as fame and fortune look set to come his way, but with Audrey II’s very specific and gruesome appetite Seymour begins resorting to desperate measures to try and nourish the plant, retain his celebrity and hopefully win the girl.
Sam Lupton and Stephanie Clift as Seymour and Audrey were a match made in casting heaven. Lupton’s hapless and lovelorn lead was faultless, weaving with ease from hilarious to awkwardly charming via somewhat deranged. Similarly Stephanie’s cheerful dizziness gave their relationship real heart, and the audience couldn’t help but fall in love with the characters. Both were vocally superb separately and in harmony, with Clift’s Somewhere That’s Green and Suddenly Seymour being particular highlights.
In addition the supporting leads, Paul Kissaun as Mushnik and Sasha Latoya, Vanessa Fisher and Cassie Clare as the du-wop girls along with the ensemble gave buckets of energy and vibrancy to every scene, with choreography that was on-point throughout and a gorgeous full, rounded sound in the company numbers.
An obvious audience favourite, X-Factor’s Rhydian was a great watch. It’s easy now for producers to cast a reality star “name” at the quality of the show’s expense (see recent ‘Ghost’ tour review for an example) but Rhydian’s Orin Scrivello – sadistic Dentist, and boyfriend of Audrey – is certainly bucking the trend and is enough to restore the faith in those who might have fallen foul of bad casting choices before.
His unique voice and stage presence lent itself brilliantly to Orin’s character, and he had the audience completely engaged right up to his last nitrous-oxide filled breath.
Special mention must also go to Josh Wilmott as puppeteer for Audrey II, whose control over the beastly bud was mesmerizing and added so much value to the quality of the second act.
In short, an incredibly funny and well put together show with incredible performances throughout.
There are no leaves unturned on Director Tara Louis Wilkinson’s production, as it attacks the audience all guns blazing from the outset with relentless, eccentric, wonderful ridiculousness. A must-see!
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