BWW Review: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at Drury Lane Theatre
Drury Lane Theatre's LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS brilliantly captures the dark comedy of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken's popular musical, based on the low-budget 1960 horror film. Scott Calcagno directs a cast who masterfully balance the campy humor with genuinely moving performances as the hapless inhabitants of Skid Row.
Kelly Felthous and Will Lidke are perfectly matched as Audrey and Seymour, the young employees of a failing flower shop owned by Mr. Mushnik (Ron E. Rains). Felthous is sweet and vulnerable as the downtrodden girl who believes she deserves no better than her "semi-sadist" boyfriend. Her rendition of "Somewhere That's Green", delivered with captivating sincerity, vividly brings to life Audrey's dream of happiness: a simple, suburban life with Seymour. In the role of Seymour, Lidke is endearingly awkward, with a knack for physical comedy, and his chemistry with Felthous is charming. It's easy to empathize with these star-crossed lovers who become tangled in the maniacal schemes of a man-eating plant, Audrey II.
It takes a team of three to bring the vicious plant to life, with puppet design by Martin P. Robinson, voice-over by Lorenzo Rush Jr., and puppeteering by Matthew Sitz. With a wicked sense of humor, rich R&B vocals, and an insatiable thirst for human blood, Audrey II drives the reluctant Seymour to murder. His first victim is Audrey's cruel boyfriend, the motorcycle-riding dentist Orin. Steven Strafford nails Orin's faux-Elvis persona, complete with lip-curl, in a performance that is both palpably frightening and macabrely funny.
These grim proceedings are set to Alan Menken's rock-and-roll, Motown-inspired score. Under Roberta Duchak's musical direction, Melanie Loren, Candace C. Edwards, and Melanie Brezill star as the doo-wop chorus whose tight harmonies set the tone for strong vocals from the entire cast. The energetic music and comedic elements, juxtaposed against Kevin Depinet's run-down set and Ryan O'Gara's mock horror film lighting, create the perfect setting for dark comedy. And in this production, the human tragedy is just as memorable as the humor, thanks to the sensitivity of the cast and director.
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS runs through October 28 at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181. Tickets are available at 630-530-0111 or drurylanetheatre.com.
Photo credit: Brett Beiner