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Review: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at The Citadel Theatre, Lake Forest

Review: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at The Citadel Theatre, Lake Forest

Production runs through October 16.

The current production at the Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest is the Howard Ashman (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast)/Alan Mencken (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin) musical The Little Shop of Horrors. The stage musical opened in 1982, 4 years before the Rick Moranis film opened in 1986 - 2 different interpretations of the story.

The story opens with a trio of powerhouse vocalists Ronette (Sabrina Edwards), Crystal (Isis Elizabeth) and Chiffon (Ania Martin) - a Greek chorus if you will - laying the foundation for the story and what is to occur. We are then introduced to the cast of characters: Seymour (Sam Shankman), Mr. Mushnik (Alan Ball), Audrey (Dani Pike), Audrey's semi-sadist dentist boyfriend Orin (Philip C. Matthews) and last but not least the plant Audrey II (voiced by Aaron Reese Boseman and puppeted by Michael Dias - what a creative combination). Seymour found Audrey II during an eclipse and brought it back to the flower shop to help it grow and thrive. When Seymour puts Audrey II's pot in the main window of the shop, people are drawn into the store as if under a spell and then buy all sorts of flowers. The shop begins to make money. Seymour has found out that Audrey II likes human blood after Seymour cut his finger and saw Audrey II's reaction. As Audrey II begins to flourish, the shop begins becomes more profitable. Seymour begins to get offers to discuss the plant on radio and in Life Magazine. Seymour has been feeding Audrey II his blood. As Audrey II grows bigger, Seymour realizes his blood alone is not enough to keep the plant growing. Seymour witnesses Olin hit Audrey. He becomes enraged and then decides that Orin would be the perfect food for Audrey II. On a visit to Olin's office, it is revealed Olin is hooked on nitrous oxide. He has a special mask he wears to get as much of the chemical as possible. After putting on the mask, Olin discovers he cannot get it off his face and that he could asphyxiate himself. He asks Seymour for help but Seymour decides not to help and let it play out. Once Olin is dead, Seymour takes his body to the shop and feeds Olin to Audrey II. Seymour is now becoming a celebrity and the shop is making more money than Mushnik could imagine. There is a police investigation into the disappearance of Olin. Mushnik has noticed red spots on the floor of shop and he found Seymour's hat at Olin's office. Mushnik wants Seymour to give a statement to the police. Audrey II tells Seymour that he has to be rid of Mushnik or Seymour will lose everything including Audrey. Seymour makes a decision and tells Mushnik the days' receipts are inside Audrey II for safekeeping. Mushnik climbs inside and is quickly devoured. While Seymour is now in charge of the shop, he realizes Audrey II will again want more blood. Seymour threatens to kill Audrey II just as Audrey walks in the shop. After a conversation with her, Seymour realizes she would love him without the fame and fortune. Seymour decides Audrey II must die after the Life interview. Audrey leaves the shop as Seymour has requested. Later that night, Audrey cannot sleep so she goes to the shop. Audrey II tricks her into watering the plant. Not noticing the danger, Audrey begins to water and a vine pulls her into the mouth of Audrey II. Seymour arrives and pulls her out but she is mortally wounded. She tells Seymour to feed her to Audrey II after she has died because that way she can stay near to Seymour. After she has died, Seymour feeds her to the plant. Seymour is devastated. The next day a representative from a company tells Seymour the company wants to sell clippings of Audrey II to the public. Seymour now realizes Audrey II's plan - world domination. Seymour tries different ways to kill the plant but it has grown too hardy to kill. Seymour grabs a machete running into the open mouth trying to kill the plant from the inside but he is quickly eaten. Crystal, Ronette and Chiffon arrive and are looking for Seymour. They are told to take the clippings. They then relate that other plants have appeared across the country fooling innocent people into feeding them blood in exchange for fame and fortune. At the end, we see Seymour, Audrey, Mushnik and Olin in the mouth of Audrey II begging people not to feed the plants.

This production was very well done considering the size of the theater and no orchestra. Front row patrons are within inches of touching the actors. This was a great ensemble working together flawlessly - including the Audrey II puppet - under the superb direction of Matthew Silar. This story is a comedy, drama and a bit creepy. There's a love story and also a lesson about wanting fame and fortune and what someone might go through to get it. Again the question is - is it worth it.......



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