BWW Review: A Monster, Motown, and More in the LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at Red Mountain Theatre Company
"Little Shop of Horrors" is a wonderful musical amalgam of sci-fi, horror, and doo-wop. It is a stylized musical that takes you on a tale of love between a guy and a girl, and the maniacal plant standing in their way. This classic musical is spawns from the campy dark comedy film from the 60's. "Little Shop of Horrors" bloomed on stage in 1982 and later had seeds land on Broadway. With wonderfully iconic music by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman (Disney's "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin") it is no surprise that the show grew like weeds in popularity. Many people also know the show from the 1986 feature film starting Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene (Audrey in the original company).
The setting of this tale is the oddly placed florist shop owned by the gruff Mr. Mushnik (Barry Austin). His fingers are tight around on the pennies in the till, and the backs of his florist Seymour (Roy Lightner) and his curvy cashier Audrey (Jessica Clark). They all seem stuck in this predicament. Lacking confidence, Seymour buries his affection for Audrey deep into the dirt. While heavily bruised Audrey is close to being put in the dirt due to the violent abuse from her sadistic boyfriend Dr. Orin Scivello (Christopher Stephen Barry). With no customers ringing the doorbell, Mushnik's Floral shop is quickly wilting away. In traditional 1950's sci-fi camp, a solar eclipse leads Seymour to discover a "strange and interesting new plant." He puts his green thumb to the task of bringing life into the tiny bud. He names this hybrid plant Audrey 2 (soulfully voiced by Toy Matthews). As it grows in size, the community's interest in it increases. Drawing a wave new business to the shop. The sharp turn into the Twilight Zone is made when the plant reveals it to be sentient and requires human blood to survive. Seymour is torn between his morality and his growing financial opportunities to finally move out of Skid Row and win the Audrey's heart. The conflict grows like kudzu, as Audrey 2 becomes too way much plant for little Seymour to prune.
So yeah, it's a love story.
I grew up watching the Roger Corman and Frank Oz "Little Shop" films. The physical and emotional abuse Audrey endures from the sadistic dentist is an element of the show that leads up to a major plot point. With that being said. Thank God the embrace of intolerance and persecution of sexual abuse today has evolved from when the play was first written. I feel the dark comedy elements dealing with abuse do not land as they used to back in 1982. "Little Shop of Horrors" is a very funny and entertaining show. I feel led to say if you are sensitive to issues dealing with domestic abuse, just be aware the show touches on this at times.
Jessica Clark brings musical theatre gold into the role of Audrey. Her performance delivers comedic and dramatic home runs along with a powerful voice. Her high pitch "New Yawk" accent and nuances slay the audience.
Roy Lightner performance as the boyish Seymour resonates with the realness of a likable little man with a ridiculously big heart. Lightner delivers relatable charm and comedy into the iconic role.
The slick and homicidal Audrey 2 is voiced by Toy Matthews. Her soulful range provides the plant its powerful presence. Together with agile puppeteer Josh Davenport, the two deliver Audrey 2 as a haunting and maniacal character.
Actor Christopher Stephen Barry gives his Red Mountain Theatre Company debut an energetic entrance as Dr. Orin Scrivello. DDS. Berry provides the sinister bad boy with the right amount of loathing and vocal leather. He carries an abundance of comical wit into several hilarious "everyman" roles throughout the performance.
Barry Austin as Mr. Mushnik brings honed and strong character work that does not disappoint. He provides a great amount of range into the old shopkeeper.
Acting as a Greek chorus combined with The Supremes are the "Street Urchins" Ronnette (Shannon Dionne), Chiffon (Ashley Woodson) and Crystal (Abijah Cunningham). These wonderfully talented ladies deliver impressive vocals backed up with sharp comical timing and character.
Red Mountain Theatre Company Executive Director Keith Cromwell takes the helm in directing "Little Shop". Cromwell's keen eye, and ear for comedy resonates through the whole show. Music Director Regi Yarbrough fills the stage with soulful vocals and an energetic band. The musical numbers tight harmonies and powerful ballads provide a healthily amount "wow" from the audience. The band was in unison delivering powerful sounds of Motown, gospel and rock. Never once overshadowing the singers.
The stylized set designed by Wheeler Kincaid and lighting by Brad Cozby provides a world in vibrant warm colors. Giving the modest stage a larger and storybook appeal.
'Little Shop of Horrors" at Red Mountain Theatre Company delivers a song filled show of smiles and surprises. It gives you a list of memorable performances with high production quality. Just be ready because after the performance you will be inspired to download the musicals soundtrack, and to avoid floral shops.
Red Mountain Theatre Company
"Little Shop of Horrors"
May 17 - Jun 2, 2019
Thurs - Sat, 7:30 pm / Sat-Sun, 2:00 pm
Red Mountain Theatre Company
301 19th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203
Tickets and info - redmountaintheatre.org
Photo Credit - Stewart Edmonds