Jonathan Groff Photo by Emilio Madrid
Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s be bop, sci fi musical, Little Shop Of Horrors, is back lighting up and taking over the stage at the Westside Arts Theatre. This revival, based on 1982 Roger Corman B-movie has a plant wanting to take over the human race, as love blooms, destruction is rampant and a tuneful score has you humming along.
Seymour (a fabulous Jonathan Groff ) the nerdy, loser, botanist is in love with his co-worker Audrey (Tammy Blanchard) a girl with a low self image, who dress like she stepped out of Fredricks of Hollywood and chooses men who abuse. Together they work at Mushnik’s (Tom Allen Robbin’s) flower shop. The shop does no business, until Seymour comes across an alien succulent, he names Aubry 11 (a rocking, Kingsley Leggs). Aubry 11 wants blood….Seymour’s and almost drains him dry until Audrey psychopathic boyfriend Orin Scrivello, DDS (Christian Borle), a dentist beats her up one too many times. The plant goes on a roll until everyone has become plant food.
Little Shop is narrated by a trio of street urchins (Salome Smith, Chelsea Turbin, Joy Woods), who tell it like it is. These three women are hip, irreverent and oh so cool.
Michael Mayer has directed this show with a tongue and check sensibility and for the most part has updated this classic cult favorite with sass. Sometimes it goes over the top into camp. Ms Blanchard, looks and acts the part in a fresh new way, she just doesn’t have the voice to really put over the contagious Ashman/ Menken score. Borle, who is a favorite of mine plays multiple deranged roles and doesn’t always succeed. Leggs, big baritone is thrilling, the trio charming and Mushnick perfectly cast. The surprise her is Groff, who is wonderful in the role. He brings a layered comedic performance, that is a delight to watch.
As always the hit is the Aubry 11, designed by Nicholas Mahon from Martin P Robinson’s original vision and puppeted by Monkey Boys Productions. I do wish the vines came over the audience. That I did miss.
Little Shop’s music is enhanced by Will Van Dyke’s terrific arrangements and Ellenore Scott’s hip choreography. The scrip is a perfect take on the B movies of their day.
Little Shop Of Horrors is selling out and for good reason. Despite all the PC incorrect happenings, the plant wins in the end and musical theatre is kept intact.
Little Shop Of Horrors: Westside Arts Theatre