BWW Review: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at Lebanon Community Theatre
Opening on Halloween, Lebanon Community Theatre's production of Little Shop of Horrors is a scary good time. The musical tells the story of the nerdy florist, Seymour (Rick Kopecky), his sweet girlfriend, Audrey (Juliana Wardle) and the problems that arise with their famous man-eating, always hungry plant, Audrey II (Dennis Harbay & Eric Pope).
Kopecky does a nice job of finding the human side of Seymour. In other productions, Seymour's dorkiness is often overplayed for laughs, but here we see him as both smart and kind. That helps the audience appreciate his journey even more. Wardle is an excellent Audrey. She has a strong voice and plays up the character's vulnerability. Her many animal-print costumes definitely emphasize her sexier side.
Harbay and Pope are an effective combo as the villainous plant. Harbay's voice is deep and expressive. Pope's puppeteering skills greatly enhanced the credibility of the creature. Congrats to the construction team for their efforts in bringing Audrey II to life. I especially liked the large, woody stems which served as long, monstrous claws.
Along for the ride were Dave Breidenstine as flower shop owner, Mr. Mushnik and Keith Heck as Orin the sadistic dentist. Both actors had a few stand-out moments, and brought some additional humor to the show. They looked like they were having fun.
Kierra Swisher, Amanda Quintana, and Grace McDaid played Chiffon, Crystal, and Ronnette, respectively. These characters serve as a type of Skid Row Greek chorus. They comment on the action, and help move the story forward, as needed. Their harmonies were great, but I would have appreciated some additional energy in their dancing and sass in their dialogue to better sell it.
Sets and costumes were basic, yet functional. There were a few anachronistic choices such as modern eyeglasses in a 1950's set show, but nothing especially distracting.
My one disappointment with the show is the choice to use pre-recorded music rather than an orchestra. The use of pre-recorded music diminishes the immediacy of a production. It straddles the line between live theater and karaoke. I think most audiences would prefer a small live band of a keyboard and percussion, rather than a pre-recorded soundtrack with all the bells and whistles. Please consider this for future musical productions.
Little Shop of Horrors plays now through November 11. It is an enjoyable night of community theater. Tickets and more information can be found on the theater's website.