Review Roundup: Critics Weigh In On LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS At Pasadena Playhouse
Pasadena Playhouse presents the cult classic musical Little Shop of Horrors, now on stage through through October 20!
The production stars George Salazar as "Seymour Krelborn;" MJ Rodriguez as "Audrey;" and Amber Riley as "Audrey ll." They are be joined by Kevin Chamberlin, three-time Tony Award nominee known for his theatre roles such as Horton in Seussical and Fester in The Addams Family on Broadway in the role of "Mr. Mushnik" and Matthew Wilkas as "Orin Scrivello."
The cast of Little Shop of Horrors is rounded out by Brittany Campbell, Tickwanya Jones, and Cheyenne Isabel Wells, and puppeteers Tyler Bremer, Kelsey Kato, Tim Kopacz, Sarah Kay Peters, and Paul Turbiak.
In Little Shop of Horrors (book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, music by Alan Menken), a power-hungry, R&B-singing, carnivorous plant sets its sights on world domination! Directed by Mike Donahue (The Legend of Georgia McBride, Geffen Playhouse) with Music Direction by Darryl Archibald and Choreography by Will B. Bell, this deviously delicious sci-fi musical comedy favorite comes to the Playhouse with some deliciously devious new twists: a brand new puppet concept for Audrey II, and a whole new take on Skid Row.
See what the critics are saying!
Jordan Riefe, Hollywood Reporter: Rodriguez delivers an Audrey who is as emotionally fragile and vulnerable as her predecessors in the role but without the cartoonishly thick New York accent adopted by Greene, star of both the original production and the movie. Touchingly hopeful as she sings in a reedy soprano voice "Somewhere That's Green," her dream of a stable life in the suburbs, Rodriguez demonstrates greater volume in her anthemic duet with Salazar, the show's signature number, "Suddenly Seymour." Together, Rodriguez and Salazar are endearing despite minimal chemistry, which may be due to the text. Little Shop of Horrors isn't about romance, but is instead a retrograde paradigm about a schnook overcoming his demons and winning the girl. As Seymour, Salazar (a breakout star of Broadway's Be More Chill) is amply nebbishy, with an adequate tenor voice and an infectious personality that amiably centers the production.
Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times: A new production of "Little Shop of Horrors" that opened Wednesday at Pasadena Playhouse takes an entirely different tack. The goofiness hasn't been banished in this crisp revival starring George Salazar as Seymour, the nerdy flower shop drone with an unusual horticultural flair, and MJ Rodriguez as the delicate co-worker he would like to rescue from a malignant relationship. But this comic book tale is treated with more realism than usual, and the leads draw out the full humanity of their characters.
Jordan Riefe, The Hollywood Reporter: In the rollicking revival of Little Shop of Horrors at Pasadena Playhouse, MJ Rodriguez stars as Audrey, an abused and forlorn romantic, not unlike her role as the no-nonsense maternal Blanca Evangelista on FX's Pose. The fact that she's the first trans performer to take on the role isn't what makes this stripped-down iteration feel fresh; brisk and rhythmic pacing emphasizing music over dialogue is key to keeping this vivacious production whimsically afloat.
Dino-Ray Ramos, Deadline: The casting goes full Hamilton with its inclusive casting in roles that are typically portrayed by white actors. Salazar, who is half Filipino and half Ecuadorian, leads strong with a character who can be seen as a doormat. As Seymour, he has an infectious sincerity that is wholesome - with a hint of playful darkness. Rodriguez, the first trans actress to play the role of Audrey in a major stage production of Little Shop of Horrors, lights up the stage, serving more of her vocal talent that many were treated to in Pose. Each time Rodriguez takes the stage her mere presence nestles itself into your heart and brings an enormous amount of love as she sings. And the chemistry between Salazar and Rodriguez embodies relationship goals - and it hits its peak when the two sing the trademark showstopping, "Suddenly Seymour", which is a highlight of this rollicking production. All the while, in a role that is typically voiced by a man, Riley booms with soul and is a hovering botanical threat as her performance devours the audience.
Dany Margolies, LA Daily News: Here, Mike Donahue directs, setting the action in the present. That means costume designer Danae Iris McQueen works in semi-grunge and choreographer Will B. Bell in semi-hip-hop. The score remains semi-Motown, which means that nearly every song here is memorable and singable, and each sounds delicious under music director Darryl Archibald. But Donahue's best directorial choice was to ensure that his actors give rich, committed portrayals, particularly George Salazar as Seymour and Mj Rodriguez as Audrey. Though Seymour loses our affection early on, Salazar remains endearing in the role, reminding us that we, too, are only a few dark steps from ethical pitfalls.