Tuesday December 12th 2017

“Little Shop of Horrors”

In 1960 Roger Corman made a film,  “Little Shop of Horrors” with a screenplay by Charles Griffith telling the tale of a down on his luck florist whose business was about to go under, but thanks to his young employee and a very unusual plant, business began to grow, rapidly to the surprise of all. It was made into a musical featuring the  songwriting team of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken ( Disney’s “Little Mermaid,”Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin”) and became one of the longest running musicals off-Broadway. While “Little Shop” has been done over and over, the new vision now on the stage at Theatre At The Center in Munster, under the creative eye of Director/Choreographer Stacey Flaster, brings this musical story to new heights.Ms Flaster has put together a sterling cast and has added some of the magic that other companies have not used.  

 

The story, like the original movie is about a young man, Seymour ( superbly played by Jonathan Lee Cunningham), an orphan that has bene taken in and raised by his employer, Mr. Mushnik ( deftly handled by Peter Kevoian), owner of Mushnik Flower Shop, in the Skid Row area of New York, and his finding a new plant, one that craves blood and with it grows in size and popularity. As the people cme to see Audrey II, the shop prospers. The other employee at the shop, Audrey ( charmingly played by Tiffany Trainer) is a woman who has little education and is unaware of Seymours’ infatuation with her. On the other hand, now wanting to be alone, she is “dating” a Dentist, Orin Scrivello ( Rod Thomas, who takes on this character along with many others , male and female with each character being developed to perfection ( and some very fast costume and gender changes) who is a pain loving man.

At the evry outset of the play, we meet a “Greek Chorus” of ladies that are almost “Supreme” in that they are the narrators and play other characters ( as needed). Chiffon ( Chadae McAlister), Crystal (Eva Ruwe) and Ronette ( Reneisha Jenkins) are all wonderful singers, move well and help to move the story along with their songs.”Little Shop” in many ways has become a “cult-film/play,” as many theatres show the non and musical version late night all over the world. The songs in this show are very into the show and if you listen closely, you will hear the undertones of the Disney creations that were written by the writers of this one. The key songs, the ones that we all know are the Prologue ( title song), “Suddenly,Seymour”, “Dentist!” ( a wild ride created by Flaster and Thomas truly has a ball with this number, showing his agility as well as his talent). “Mushnik and Son” is handled differently than in most other productions, and since I cannot recall the film version, I do not recall as much Jewish flavor to this number as Flaster has inserted- while very funny, I am not sure how the more religious population might take this scene, and if the Gentiles will understand the rituals and adornments, but the song and its choreography are a delight!

William A. Underwood (Musical Director and conductor) and his four musicians  get to the heart of the music and the pacing is sheer perfection. Bill Bartelt’s set is delightful in that we can sense the poverty of the shop and neighborhood from the get go and see the transition as the shop gets stronger. Tim Fandrei’s lighting effects work well and the costuming by Brenda Winsead fit the story. The props by Lauren Earnshaw are delightful and the Audrey II puppet is dynamite. Voice work by Stanley White is powerful and the puppeteer, Scott Stratton keeps the audience’s full attention. After all, Audrey II might be considered as the star of this show- without her, there is no story and “her” song “Suppertime” will make you care a bit for her plight of not being able to survive without “blood”. All in all, what is “little Shop” about? It is about finding love, finding happiness, making sacrifices and this particular production under the careful eye of Flaster meets ( and exceeds) all of the expectations that audiences , who know this show will expect

“Little Shop Of Horrors” will continue at The Theatre at the Center, located at 1040 Ridge Road in Munster ( just over the border and only 30 minutes from the loop) through August 19th with performances as follows:

Wednesday and Thursday afternoons at 2 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 :30 p.m. There are also some other special dates which you will find at www.TheatreAtTheCenter.com

Tickets range from $38-$42 and can be ordered by calling the box office at 219-836-3255, or Tickets.com by  calling 1 -800-511-1552 and of course www.TheatreAtTheCenter.com

To see what others feel, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to review round-up and click on “Little Shop of Horrors”

 

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