BWW Review: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS Revival Makes For A New Kind Of Magic
Murderous plants. Demented dentists. Lee Lee Chin. LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS hardly your regular musical - and yet. With a memorable, '60's inspired score, a super-talented cast, and just enough wink at the audience, this new touring production of the cult classic from Messrs. Ashman & Menken is everything that makes musical theatre great.
Sure, the plot is silly. And kind of gruesome. This is B-movie stuff with melody after-all. But this Dean Bryant directed, Sydney transplant offers more heart than schlock, and a couple of truly killer numbers that still manage to sound fresh, despite their familiarity on the show-stopper circuit.
As Audrey, the wounded bombshell yearning to escape Skid Row, Ester Hannaford is the kind of lead performer you wish for, that rare talent where you know you are safe in their hands before they've even sung one line. Hannaford has the physical comedy of this role down, and the tragedy too, and when she does start singing - well, bow down audience, because Hannaford sings. Her belt makes you want to cheer throughout her songs, as well as after (we were a particularly raucous, appreciative audience this opening night at the Comedy Theatre).
As her Seymour, Brent Hill offers just the right amount of hapless and hopeful. On double-duty here, Hill also voices Audrey 2 (the ever hungry plant), and he's so good at managing the two roles that I have to admit it took me a while to realise what was going on. The plant herself is both character and prop - wonderfully imagined by master puppet makers Erth. Visual & Physical, she grows and groans into a truly dominant creature by the end of the production.
The supporting cast are also spot on throughout this journey from monochrome to technicolor and madness. Using a girl-group as a kind of sassy Greek chorus might be a familiar trick of the trade, but it works to anchor the story, and the three women - Angelique Cassimatis, Josie Lane and Chloe Zuel look and sound gorgeous together. Scott Johnson is wonderfully ridiculous as Audrey's egomaniac lover who literally laughs himself to death, and Tyler Coppin's Mr. Mushnik is both mercenary and worthy of our sympathy when he is betrayed by his 'son', Seymour.
There really isn't anything to fault in this wonderful little production, proving as it does that the right revival with the right cast makes for a new kind of magic every time.
Luckiest Productions and Tinderbox Productions presents:
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS
Comedy Theatre, from May 5
For tickets and more information click here.
Image Credit: Jeff Busby