Reviewed by Wendy Mildren
The MBP&S have been keeping their light under a bushel, but their secret is out as their latest production of Little Shop of Horrors was a hit. Written by Howard Ashman, lyrics by Alan Menken, and directed by Grantley Hughes assisted by Andrew Broadbent, the show had a large cast who, despite the constrictions of the stage, moved fluidly throughout the action.
The action of the play takes place in Mr. Mushnik’s Florist shop in down and out skid row. Business had been falling off until Seymour, an unobtrusive assistant, raised an exotic plant, which, unfortunately, only thrived on blood. Audrey, the female assistant, is the love of Seymour’s life and he continues to feed the plant in the hopes of gaining Audrey’s attention.
Ben Furnell as ‘Seymour’ looked nerdy and inept as the character demanded, and sang well. The song when Mr. Mushnik proposed that Seymour become his adopted son, in an attempt to keep Seymour working for him rather than accept all the financial offers being made, was a scene stealer. Chris Overton as ‘Mr. Mushnik’ was excellent. His comedic timing was spot on. He maintained his Jewish accent all through the play. Sophie Smyth as ‘Audrey’ played the part exceptionally well, and she maintained her Brooklyn accent. Being a very petite build she looked perfect for her role.
Jake McNamara played a multitude of roles, but was a real show stopper as ‘Orin Scrivello’ the sadistic dentist. McNamara looked demented sniffing his nitrous oxide and the audience loved him. Anika Bartholomeusz, Tammy Gamble and Marie Reu were great as ‘Ronnette’, ‘Chiffon’ and ‘Crystal’. They were the Greek chorus who bopped along setting the scenes for the audience. There were a number of children and other adults who played their various small parts well.
This reviewer was worried as to how the MBP&S were going to reproduce ‘Audrey !!’, the exotic and somewhat evil plant. There were four puppet plants, showing the various sizes as more blood was eaten, the last one filled half the stage. The puppets were worked by Iain and Adam Lewcock and the voice was provided by Janene Overton. The puppets worked extremely well and looked realistic.
Congratulations must be extended to the team of costume makers, as the costumes looked terrific, and obviously worked well as there were a number of very quick changes. The orchestra played well, however they could have been a little quieter at times. All in all, a great show to an extremely appreciative first night audience.