Friday, October 12, 2012

Review: (Vancouver) Little Shop of Horrors

Greg Delmage, Nicole Stevens, Kerry O'Donovon, Veronika Sztopa Photo credit: Devin Karringten
Well, that was a lot of fun!
by David C. Jones
Little Shop of Horrors is a morbid little comedy musical about a young dweeb who finds a fascinating plant that starts him on a path out of the gutter and onto stardom. But this is a deal with the devil because Seymour Krelborn discovers to his horror that this plant thrives on blood.
Based on the 1960’s non-musical Roger Corman film – that marked the screen debut of Jack Nicholson as a crazed patient – this 1982 off-Broadway show is a cult hit containing a witty doo-wop Broadway rock score by composer Alan Menken and writer the late Howard Ashman. (Note to producers: Their names are illegible on the program cover and bios of them would seem fair. After all you couldn’t do the show if they didn’t write it.)
this diverse cast has a spectacular time

Fighting Chance shows often feature up and coming talent and when the material is strong (like their productions of Hair and Sweeney Todd) they can soar on equal parts verve and skill. Their shows, however, operate on a limited budget and often the compromise is on production details or technical requirements. 
Luckily this diverse cast has a spectacular time and as they move through the rocking score their joy of performing is palpable. Director Ryan Mooney makes sure they don’t send up the already campy material but play it straight. The actors manage to stay in the moment and allow thoughts to hit them keeping everything alive and buoyant. With dark material like this, that adds a sense of danger too.
Melissa Maxine as Audrey - the abused shop girl - has the unenviable task of stepping into a role so defined by Ellen Green and re-imagines it with her own brand of wide-eyed wonder. When she belts Suddenly Seymour or laments Somewhere That’s Green her voice is clear and evocative. 
Kerry O’Donovan as Seymour is a surprisingly powerful singer and delightful actor. His work is detailed and mostly internal but when Seymour opens up you can’t help but smile and hope he succeeds. 
Very enjoyable is the tall and mischievous Greg Delmage as Orin Scrivello the abusive boyfriend and first victim of the plant. There should have been more physical difference in the other characters he played rather than just hats and voice.
The rest of the cast does fun work and the band directed by Vashti Fairbairn is tight.
Sure, one of the puppets (the plant grows in size throughout the play) was in need of repair, but sticking five or six balloons on the walls to show the plant shop was now successful was random, and in Act One in particular, they needed microphones. Also bathing Ms Clark in green light when she sings Somewhere That’s Green makes her look like Elphaba from Wicked – it’s far too literal. Repeating the effect on Seymour later makes him look nauseous, not heart broken.
But when the beat kicks in and that cast lets loose and the witty words and songs by Mr. Menken and Mr. Ashman come alive, it’s a lovely fun time at the theatre and suitably wicked for the Halloween season.

1 comment:

  1. To be fair - I should confess that although I think putting bios for playwright's bio's in program - at a show I produced I did list the playwrights name I did not include a bio. But I will from now on.


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