The locals turned out in force for the opening of Northern Light Theatre Company’s production of Little Shop of Horrors at the swank Shedley Theatre in Elizabeth. There were also plenty of the aficionados this cult classic rightfully attracts. Neither group was disappointed.
For those who don’t know, this particular musical theatre is rare in that it’s a stage show based on a B-grade film first released in 1960. The story is set in the titular shop of a Skid Row florist owned by Mr Mushnik and staffed by Seymour and Audrey with Audrey’s dentist boyfriend and a carnivorous plant (Audrey 2) from outer space both central to the plot.
This production is big in every way with, what seemed, no expense spared and a great eye for detail. The costumes alone were a credit to designer Ann Humphries. All up, there’s more shtick, schmaltz and kitsch on display than a 1970s Elvis concert – and the songs are just as catchy. This production is gloriously bombastic and as lovably overblown as an Elvis impersonator. What you’re getting here is all big and beautiful.
The casting is superb with the introverted Seymour played to perfection by David MacGillivray who also sings with reliable zest. Brian Godfrey as Mr Mushnik is splendid in all of his “Oy vey” histrionics. Amy Hutchinson plays Audrey with a controlled style reminiscent of Ellen Greene in the 1986 film version. David Salter plays Audrey’s mad, bad and dangerous to know dentist boyfriend Orin Scrivello and he does it with such a euphoric insanity it’s (almost) infectious. Almost, because the role as well as the overall storyline does incorporate a weighty ballast of domestic abuse, concepts of self-esteem and even a Mephistophelian deal. Rohan Watts is the voice of Audrey 2 and based on the quality of his voice alone you’d swear he was a relative of Isaac Hayes. Michelle Davy, Michelle Pearson and Lisa Simonetti play the chorus with a consistently sensual and exciting verve that’s easy on the eye and even better to the ears.
The set is interesting, very well-built and it combined well with Chris Golding’s lighting design for an added depth to the staging.
Director Ceri Horner keeps things running along swiftly while managing seamless changes from songs, drama and Sue Pole’s captivating choreography. Musical director Gordon Combes handles a variety of styles with ease while keeping it all up beat.
The audience response was magnificent; there was a vociferous sense of celebration in keeping with the show’s cult following and they had every reason to cheer. Northern Light Theatre Company has put on Little Shop of Horrors with all the pizzazz of a Broadway production – if you go to see it you’re going to leave knowing you’ve just been entertained.