Sell A Door Theatre Company present the famous cult classic about a bloodthirsty plant: Little Shop of Horrors. Tara Louis Wilkinson’s direction is fresh, inventive and creative in its presentation for the stage and most elements of the production are faultless.
Sam Lupton shone in his emotional portrayal of Seymour, his unwavering performance delivered right up until Seymour’s inevitable descent into madness and subsequent death. Similarly his onstage romance Audrey (Stephanie Cliff) connected well with the role – a melodramatic portrayal on the lead female. With strong vocals, her comic approach was endearing, but at times steered the audience away from the emotional side of her character - notably during Suddenly Seymour. There was occasional accent slips, but as a whole two impressive young actors lead the show with perfection.
The celebrity X Factor name – Rhydian Roberts – brought some comic relief to this dark production with his rendition of the sadist dentist Orin. Rhydian proved last night that celebrity casting can work very well, considering the controversy that has recently been sparked among the placement of star names in musicals.
The infectious ensemble and band enhanced Alan Menken’s brilliant original score, with particular highlights including the Act One finale with shedding guitar riffs and striking vocals from Vanessa Fisher. Set design and band married up nicely as the musicians appeared on stage in the ‘Skid Row Music Shop’ – a lovely touch.
Assured performances came from the three skid row girls – Crystal (Shasha Latoya), Chiffon (Vanessa Fisher) and Ronnette (Cassie Clare), who clearly delivered the narrative of the play – complemented by Matthew Cole’s slick 60s choreography. Paul Kissaun’s made for a commendable Mr Mushnik, descending from comedy to anger seamlessly.
On the whole David Shields design was excellent, but it was clear that it proved difficult to fill the Alexandra Theatre’s vast stage, which did also cause some lighting issues. Notably, a large beam flooding the first few rows of the audience during Suddenly Seymour distracted and there was an excessive amount of haze, which resulted in straining to see performers expressions. Having said this, as a design Charlie Morgan Jones’ lighting was stunning, creating some beautiful images throughout.
The real star of this show is the master behind the puppetry of the stunning Audrey 2 puppet and Resident Director (Josh Wilmot). The movement was life like – Wilmot’s dexterity with the puppet paired with Neil Nicholas’ vocals blended well creating an almost united performance. The effectiveness of the puppet was clear to see, especially in the number Feed Me/Get It, where the relationship between Seymour (Sam Lupton) and the plant really came into play.
Sell A Door Theatre Company stun with this vibrant new production – the best in their season this year –
I would certainly pay good money to see this again!
Get yourself down to Skid Row and do not miss Little Shop of Horrors on tour around the UK until November 2016. Playing at the Alex until Saturday 1 October.
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