Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena

Deena Jones
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#1
Posted: 9/19/19 at 11:33am

Any word on how it is?

conealpetterson
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#2
Posted: 9/19/19 at 12:29pm
I saw it last night and really liked it overall. I thought the Urchins were fantastic. All 3 were amazing singers and their harmonies were so tight and it was only the second performance. Brittany Campbell - who was a Schuyler sister understudy for Hamilton Chicago - plays Ronnette.

I loved George Salazar as Seymour. His vocals were strong and he brought the right amount of sweet and nerdy. It is definitely a slightly different “Little Shop of Horrors” but I think it works to have a trans woman of color as Audrey. I just wish MJ Rodriguez’s performance had been a little stronger. She seemed nervous and stumbled over a few lines - so I hope her confidence will grow as she gets some more shows under her belt. She doesn’t play Audrey as the Ellen Greene imitation that I have seen before. It feels much more like someone who really grew up on Skid Row and had a rough life. Her vocals were strong and she opened up more in Act 2. I thoroughly enjoyed their “Suddenly Seymour.” Where she stumbled was in the acting. It came off very flat - except in the more emotional scenes. Though she has done theater, she has more recently done TV and my daughter felt like she was doing TV acting on the stage, which didn’t work. I do think she will grow into the role more.

Kevin Chamberlain was great as Mr. Mushnik. He played it like the seasoned performer he is. Matthew Wilkas played Orin with a darker edge than I have seen before. He still did the laughing gas schtick- but it wasn’t over the top. His dying scene was pretty dramatic and I heard someone in the audience say out loud, “Is he ok?” I really enjoyed Amber Riley as Audrey II. Her vocals were amazing - but it was sad to have her behind the scenes and not get to actually see her perform.

There were several puppeteers who do things with silhouettes and puppets thoughout the show. While I liked what they did, it was strange not to have an Audrey II that grew. They had one main puppet for Audrey II and during scenes where it was supposed to be bigger, the puppeteers came out with different pieces of a bigger plant and then they would go away after the scene and you were left with the smaller plant.

The costumes and set were a mix of modern and period pieces. The clothing was fairly modern - especially the Urchins’ costumes. There is an older car and rotary phones, but there is also a modern dentist setup and modern bags of plant food. For me, it made some of the lyrics feel a bit out of place - like “Somewhere That’s Green” where the lyrics allude to many 1960’s things. I really wasn’t sure when it was supposed to be set. Audrey’s clothing is much more subdued than previous Audrey’s I have seen, so the line where she talks about doing terrible things and wearing tacky clothing, not like the clothes she wears to the shop, fell flat.

Those are my initial thoughts. It is definitely worth seeing. It was a full house last night and the audience seemed to enjoy it. I look forward to hearing what other people think and if I missed something with the set design.
nasty_khakis
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joined:3/15/07
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#3
Posted: 9/19/19 at 12:37pm

Sad I can't see this one, mostly because Matthew Wilkas is...sexy.

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emo_geek
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#4
Posted: 9/19/19 at 12:39pm

Thanks for the detailed review, conealpetterson

I have tickets for it the first week in October, and I'm very excited. I'm glad I bought my $30 tickets when I did- as most seats seem to be in the $110+ range now. 

I love this show, and I am excited about the cast. I'll post my thoughts once I see it. Sounds like they had a strong start, and I hope they get more comfortable as time goes on. 

 

"I never had theatre producers run after me. Some people want to make more Broadway shows out of movies. But Elliot and I aren't going to do Batman: The Musical." - Julie Taymor 1999
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DoTheDood
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#5
Posted: 9/19/19 at 12:53pm

I would love to see this, but damn wrong coast. Still I always dislike when productions use more modern clothing for this show, it's like having Hairspray with modern clothes, it doesn't make any sense. I am very curious at the puppets and sets as I've seen some stuff on Instagram, but not a super good look at either. Like is it a bare set, or do they just not have anything before curtain and at curtain call?

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2ixzH3lVLL/

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2ixFyEDwKT/

Also wondering about the puppet if this is rehearsal

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2he70pnhc7/

LightsOut90
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joined:5/2/14
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#6
Posted: 9/19/19 at 1:59pm

any merch?

conealpetterson
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#7
Posted: 9/19/19 at 2:25pm
The stage starts out completely bare and then the ceiling and backdrop for the stage are lowered down and set pieces are rolled on. The ceiling of the set uses fluorescent lights, which have it that depressing Skid Row flower shop feel.

I often like it when a director changes the setting of a play or uses modern objects in a clever way. I loved the Oklahoma revival set - but I felt like it was part of the overall vision. I feel like this production hasn’t quite decided - with the costumes and sets - when it is set.

In terms of the puppet - the puppeteers each hold big pieces of Audrey II - like long legs and the flower. It feels a little bit like Mummenschanz.

There was no merch that I saw. I don’t recall the Pasadena Playhouse ever selling merch.
cryan71
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#8
Posted: 9/19/19 at 4:09pm
I thought the performances were good. I didn't really like the set design. Felt like the space was underutilized. And the puppets were odd. Not actually growing took me out of the moment.
mattyp4
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#9
Posted: 9/22/19 at 6:07am
I saw this Friday night & I didn’t care for it.

MJ’s Audrey misses the mark completely. There’s no humor in her performance. No camp. Nothing. I appreciate that she’s not doing an Ellen Greene imitation but she plays Audrey way too earnestly. That was either a strange artistic decision or she’s just incapable of delivering comedic lines. Regardless, she was dull, right down to her wardrobe. (She wears sweatpants in the final scene! I mean...) Her vocals were lovely—I loved when she used her lower register in “Suddenly Seymour”— but her acting falls way flat. I’ve only ever seen her in Pose & Saturday Church but she just seems to lack range, unfortunately.

I also didn’t care for the Audrey II puppet, which was kind of a concept-y mess. It’s big one scene & small the next. It’s “mouth” moves one scene & stays shut the next. I didn’t know if these decisions were intentional or if they were having puppet issues but it was just confusing. I admire the use of puppetry again (I didn’t love when they used an actor in green clothes for City Center & the Kennedy Center productions) but this was just messy. Also, the plant is purple. With ping pong balls on it. Not menacing. Not interesting. A big let-down.

Not to pile on but I was really bored with Amber Riley as the voice of Audrey II (forgettable) & I absolutely loathed Matthew Wilkas as Orin (the dentist). All his deliveries & mannerisms seemed painfully forced. I’ve seen great, funny, madcap Orins but his just came off as irritating & crude... and not in a good way. (He ruined the whole joke of the “say ahhh” part of “Dentist!”)

It’s not all bad though. George Salazar was one of the best Seymours I’ve seen on stage. He was perfect. He “got it.” Ditto Kevin Chamberlain’s Mushnik. The two of them know how to deliver a comedic line! (The rest of the cast? Not so much.)

Oh the street urchins were great too but that should be a given. They’re so great as written. It’s hard to mess up!

Despite my criticism I did have a good time & I’m still really glad I saw it. I just wish it were better. I was disappointed.
conealpetterson
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#10
Posted: 9/22/19 at 12:11pm
I really couldn’t understand the creative reasoning behind giving Audrey such boring costumes.
mattyp4
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#11
Posted: 9/22/19 at 12:54pm

conealpetterson said: "I really couldn’t understand the creative reasoning behind giving Audrey such boring costumes. "

Maybe because they wanted to make her more everyday & approachable? To reflect like the sort of people who are in the audience? That’s the only reason I can think of. But Audrey is supposed to counter the nerdy, nebbish Seymour. She’s supposed to be over-the-top & the opposite of Seymour. Having her act & dress pedestrian defeats the purpose. Such bad direction.

sm33
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#12
Posted: 9/25/19 at 2:48pm

Saw this last night, and we didn't like it very much. 

Ronnette, Crystal and Chiffon all sounded great, were well-utilized and had excellent stage presence, especially Crystal. And Amber Riley was great for Audrey II, imo. 

But the stage design was pretty ugly all around, as were the costumes, and I didn't like the way they handled Audrey II. Most of the time, she was a normal sized plant (as seen in the preview pics), but they changed it up every time she ate people, and only one of those variations worked well. I get that this isn't supposed to be a slick or glitzy production, but in many ways, it looked amateur. 

George Salazar was fine as Seymour, but his singing wasn't very strong. Mj Rodriguez was affecting as Audrey, but noticeably rushing and flubbing her lines throughout. I thought Matthew Wilkas was okay as the dentist, but my husband hated his over-the-top performance. Mushnik was fine. 

I know they only started performances a week or so ago, and I am sure the performance issues will improv a little over time. But a lot of the problems with this production are deeper than that.

We're seeing the NYC edition next month, so I am eager to see how that one differs. 

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Kad
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#13
Posted: 9/25/19 at 3:23pm

I have to say, judging only by the production photos, that this looks like the ugliest production of Little Shop I've ever seen. 

"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."
mattyp4
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#14
Posted: 9/25/19 at 4:12pm

sm33 said: "We're seeing the NYC edition next month, so I am eager to see how that one differs."

Yeah I'm seeing the Off-Broadway production in a couple of weeks. I've been avoiding reviews & spoilers but I'm hoping (confident, really) that this production will wash the taste of Pasadena out of my mouth!

Wildcard
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#15
Posted: 9/25/19 at 8:52pm

I'm feeling torn whether to see this production or not. Little Shop can be gritty but still needs to have some camp in it.

https://ew.com/theater/2019/09/24/mj-rodriguez-little-shop-of-horrors/

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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#16
Posted: 9/25/19 at 9:10pm
I thought having Rodriguez as Audrey was a great idea, but geez that interview just made me question whether anyone involved in the show knew this was a comedy.
"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."
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Plannietink08
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#17
Posted: 9/25/19 at 9:36pm

Good on them for trying something new. The idea of a realistic and gritty LITTLE SHOP does sound intriguing and after the success of OKLAHOMA! I’m glad to see other works are being stripped back with new layers attempting to be found. Even if the finished product isn’t successful I still think the company should be lauded. 

Personally I’d have reinvented LITTLE SHOP by performing it site specific. Having a full functioning flower shop as the setting since the show itself is supposed to be a tiny production. 

"Charlotte, we're Jewish"
conealpetterson
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#18
Posted: 9/25/19 at 10:35pm
I really appreciate when a director tries something different with a well known show and it succeeds. I loved the Oklahoma! revival and it worked for me because to me the actors, the choreography, the sets and the costumes were cohesive and supported the director’s vision for the show (I certainly know not everyone feels that way). That was just not the case with this production of Little Shop. Some actors were playing the roles comically like George Salazar, Kevin Chamberlin and Amber Riley and others were trying to do something different and gritty like MJ Rodriguez and Matthew Wilkas. Some set pieces and costumes were modern and some were retro. It felt like they needed to make a choice and either go the traditional comic route or go all in with the new gritty vision. The middle ground didn’t work.
mattyp4
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#19
Posted: 9/25/19 at 10:42pm

Wildcard said: "I'm feeling torn whether to see this production or not. Little Shop can be gritty but still needs to have some camp in it."

I agree. Little Shop can certainly have grit but it definitely needs camp. This production has neither. The camp is just about nonexistent. And it's less gritty than it is ugly. (Ugly set; ugly costumes; ugly plant puppet.) As I mentioned earlier, Audrey is played earnestly with nary a trace of camp or humor. That doesn't make it feel "gritty" or "edgy;" just boring & misguided. 

I'm still glad I saw this production-- I happened to be in LA last weekend and didn't realize previews had already started, so I bought a ticket-- but I'm very cautious about recommending it. There are some bright spots (Seymour; Mushnik) but overall it's a big miss. 

 

mattyp4
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#20
Posted: 9/25/19 at 10:43pm

Plannietink08 said: "Personally I’d have reinvented LITTLE SHOP by performing it site specific. Having a full functioning flower shop as the setting since the show itself is supposed to be a tiny production."

There is a production that did that earlier this year. It was in Ithaca. 

https://www.broadwayworld.com/central-new-york/article/Photo-Flash-First-Look-At-Site-Specific-LITTLE-SHOP-OF-HORRORS-At-Bools-Flower-Shop-20190501

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Kad
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#21
Posted: 9/25/19 at 10:48pm
The pedigrees of Oklahoma and Little Shop are very different.
Oklahoma was adapted from a dramatic play and hews close to that.
Little Shop was adapted from an intentionally ridiculous B-movie made on a shoestring budget in a few days.
"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."
SouthernCakes
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#22
Posted: 9/25/19 at 11:18pm
Yeah I don’t think a stripper back Little Shop works. The show is camp. It’s about a plant that eats people...
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BenjaminNicholas2
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#23
Posted: 9/25/19 at 11:28pm

This production was a perfect example of press release casting and misguided direction.

It looks terrible.  It's played straight (well, by some).  It's totally missing the point of the show.

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missthemountains
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#24
Posted: 9/26/19 at 10:22pm

This is so unfortunate because I was really excited by this casting and I wish we'd gotten Rodriguez/Salazar/Gray in NYC as opposed to the casting we've gotten here.

My thinking on it is this--I think they got so caught up in the diverse casting that they sacrificed the material for it. I think it would've been way cooler for them to have color conscious casting and still do the show in the 50's (60's?) as written. because that in and of itself, is a statement. Modernizing the show without updating any of the references, which legally they can't do, is lazy. If LSOH were written today, it would inherently be a different show. Someone compared the likeness of the design to the recent anchronized OKLAHOMA--and I can't exactly explain why it doesn't bother me as much with OKLAHOMA to have anachronisms than LSOH--but it really does. Also, LSOH can be done scaled back--it's written as a chamber piece--but my god, is thisd design just ugly as all get out. It just looks so uninspired and lazy all around. A real let down.

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DoTheDood
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Little Shop of Horrors- Pasadena#25
Posted: 9/26/19 at 10:36pm

missthemountains said: "I think it would've been way cooler for them to have color conscious casting and still do the show in the 50's (60's?) as written. "

60's, as the original movie is from 1960 and I think the movie hints that the events take place around 1964.