An evil plant named Audrey 11 and its `victims’ captivated audiences on the opening night of the high energy musical Little Shop of Horrors.
There were cheers all around as the new Australian production of this gleefully gruesome show made its Melbourne debut, after critically acclaimed seasons in Sydney and Adelaide.
As I hadn’t seen this cult show before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I discovered was an imaginative and most entertaining production.
Inspired by the 1960 Roger Corman B grade horror film of the same name, Little Shop of Horrors tells of meek, down-and-out orphaned floral assistant Seymour Krelborn who works at Mushnik’s, a failing florist store on Skid Road. He is desperately in love with his co-worker Audrey. One night Seymour stumbles across a weird looking new plant species that he names ‘Audrey II’. Suddenly his fortunes change as the world becomes fascinated by his discovery. But there’s a catch – the plant only feeds on human blood. To keep the plant alive, and thus boost his fame and hopes of winning Audrey’s heart, Seymour has to find that blood from somewhere. Enter Audrey’s abusive boyfriend Orin, a gas-guzzling dentist!
Needless to say the performance of the cast is central to the success of a show with such an outrageous storyline. The talented cast delivers.
Brent Hill’s portrayal of the unloved baby-faced Seymour is such that you can just about understand his occasional acts of pre-meditated murder! As I later discovered, he also voices Audrey II when the plant becomes capable of speech.
Esther Hannaford is brilliant as the ditzy, vulnerable and good hearted salesgirl Audrey. Her voice and comic timing are perfect.
Supporting cast members Tyler Coppin, as shop-owner Mr Mushnik (and several other roles) and Scott Johnson as the evil dentist portray the production’s most self-serving characters brilliantly. Performances by the show’s three-woman chorus Josie Lane, Chloe Zuel and Angelique Cassimatis, who also act as narrators, are excellent.
Then there are the various Audrey II puppets. Designed by Erth Visual & Physical Inc. they are imaginative and amazing. The first is small and doesn’t look too threatening. The final one – the foul-mouthed, smooth-talking, R&B-singing carnivore with its long, snake-like torso and two huge leaves flaring out – is a most scary creature.
Adding to the appeal of the show are the songs which combine 60s rock and roll with soul and include Feed Me, Suddenly Seymour and Somewhere That’s Green’. Many feature very funny lyrics however at times I did find some of those lyrics difficult to understand . I’m not sure if it was me or the sound system. As a result I feel I missed even more comic gems from this whacky, ghoulish and fun show.
The Little Shop of Horrors is playing at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre until May 22. It then moves to Canberra ,Brisbane and Perth. For more information and to book tickets visit the website
*Photo credit: Jeff Busby
Jenny Burns attended the opening night of Little Shop of Horrors as a guest of the show.
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