I have often heard it said that Little Shop Of Horrors is not a show for youth groups…”the music is too demanding”, “it’s too gruesome for children”; they said. A show celebrating murder and a man-eating plant is surely not an appropriate topic for a youth production? Right? Absolutely not! I have often heard it said but never agreed, and thankfully the KODYS production tonight backs me up completely! Not only did the youth company onstage deliver a slick, convincing and highly-skilled performance this evening, they had their mixed age audience thoroughly engrossed from start to finish. From the oldest adult to the very youngest toddler, the whole audience was enthralled and even a severed head getting a lot more stage time than intended could not make it too gruesome for the young audience members!
It is true that this is a very demanding show musically. The close harmonies mixed with tricky lyrics and relentless rhythms make it a challenge for even the most experienced of performers. The KODYS cast took it all in their stride however and under the direction of Musical Director Russell Painter delivered some very impressive vocal performances throughout.
Leading the singing from the opening scene Olivia Darks, Lily Orchard, Jessica Richards, Hannah Perry and Imogen Roff made a great impact as the group of five glamourous street urchins. The group had a great chemistry between them, although they can afford to smile and let themselves enjoy it a little more! Excellent solo performances later in the show from Hannah and Jessica too.
Josh Haywood was a suitably nerdy but gentle Seymour who was well-matched with Jessica Brett’s confident Audrey. The pair gave very strong individual performances and worked well together, particularly in the difficult duets in Act 2.
They were well-supported by Ella Hanks – a wonderfully expressive Mr Mushnik, and Louis Wharton as the sinister Orin Scrivello, while Julian Richards brought a suitably menacing presence to the Voice of the Plant.
It is always the sign of a good production when the list of names that deserve credit goes on and on. Even those taking on minor cameo roles attacked them with energy and excellent characterisation, with Vicky Licence, Faith Dickenson and Maisie Wilson shining in their solos in The Meek Shall Inherit. A special mention is also due to Evan Mancrief and Dan Richards for their puppetry skills.
This production of Little Shop of Horrors forms part of a programme celebrating 100 years of Kidderminster Operatic Society. The youth company may have a way to go before they celebrate their own centenary year, but if the performances onstage and the reactions of younger siblings in the audience tonight are anything to go by, I am certain that Kidderminster has a bank of fresh new talent they will be drawing on for many years to come.
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