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Review: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at Porthouse Theatre--KSU School Of Theatre And Dance

Review: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at Porthouse Theatre--KSU School Of Theatre And Dance

Porthouse Theatre's LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS features creative directing and fabulous choreography


LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, the horror comedy rock musical which is now on stage at Porthouse Theatre, is the kind of show that many love to hate while others love it. The topics of abuse and drug use, which are not in the wheelhouse of musicals, sometimes turn people off, as does the phy-sci-centered plot.

Filled with rock and roll, doo-wop and early Motown music, it has a strong cult following who gleefully singalong with the shows catchy "Skid Row" "Somewhere That's Green, and "Suddenly Seymour" and imitate the "Feed Me" sounds of Audrey II, the blood thirsty plant who plays a major part in the story's warped plot.

The Alan Menken (music) and Howard Ashman (lyrics and book) stage show, is loosely based on the low-budget 1960 black and white film of the same name.

The plot based on the story, "The Reluctant Orchid," a tale of a humble florist who uses a man-eating plant to get rid of his enemies and raise his own status.

Howard Ashman, who wrote the lyrics and book, in the introduction to the acting edition of the libretto, states that the show "satirizes many things: science fiction, "B-movies, musical comedy itself, and even the Faust legend."

The musical premiered Off-off Broadway in 1982, then moved to Off-Broadway for a five-year run. When it closed, it was the highest-grossing production in Off-Broadway history.

The tale starts with a trio of street urchins named Crystal, Ronette, and Chiffon setting the 1960's mood and foreshadow the tale, singing the title song. We meet Seymour Krelborn, a geeky young man who was taken from an orphanage by Mr. Mushnik, the owner of a failing florist shop located on skid row. Also present are cranky Mr. Mushnik and Audrey, a pretty blonde who is in an abusive relationship with Orin Scrivello, a sadistic dentist.

Seymour finds a mysterious plant that looks like a large Venus flytrap. Since Seymour is secretly in love with Audrey, he names the plant Audrey II in her honor.

Though Seymour takes very good care of it, the plant does not thrive in its new environment. He accidentally pricks his finger on a rose thorn, which draws blood, and Audrey II's pod opens thirstily. Seymour realizes that Audrey II requires blood to survive.

Thus starts the farcical tale of how Audrey II's blood-needs are met, the florist shop becomes famous because of Audrey II, the abuser gets "done-in," Seymour finds a way to be with Audrey, and lot of other weird "stuff" happens.

The Porthouse production, under the creative direction of Terri Kent, is delightful.

Morgan Mills (Seymour), is appealing and sings well. It would have been nice if he was a little-more "geekier."

Abby Stoffel has the right looks and attitude for Audrey. Her "Somewhere That's Green," was the show's emotional highlight. A little less screeching while speaking, would have been appreciated.

The street urchins, Chiffon (Jocelyn Trimmer), Crystal (Israeljah Aylah Khi-Reign) and Ronette (Hannah Hall), who act as a Greek Chorus, commenting on the action, are top-notch. Their singing, dancing and acting are show-stoppers.

Tim Culver's Mr. Mushnik is "kvetch" (whiner) perfect.

Martin Cespedes's choreography, especially in the scenes with the street urchins, was creative and visually compelling. His use of authentic 1960 dance moves, such as the Frug, Pony, Swim, Twist, Paso Doble and the ageless Hora, added a special choreographic aesthetic.

Jennifer Korecki's musicians, Brad Bolton (guitar) Don Day (Bass) and Scott Thomas (Percussion) were boppin'-right, underscoring, rather than drowning out the singers.

The set, lighting, props and costumes all helped "flesh out" the production.

No credit is listed in the program for who made the crowd-pleasing Audrey II puppets. Since productions receive designs for building the puppets as part of the rental scripts and scores, which are based on the original Martin P. Robinson designs, the plant may have been locally produced, may have been rented from another theatre who did the show, or rented from a professional prop company. Kudos to Robert Miler, the Audrey II Puppeteer, and Tyrell J. Reggins (Audrey II's voice).

Capsule judgment: Porthouse's LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS is well directed by Terri Kent, creatively choreographed by Martin Cespedes, and musically on-key by Jennifer Korecki and her musicians. Audiences should enjoy themselves with the spirited production, but may return home and get rid of their house plants.

Ending notes:

Eric van Baars Porthouse's Executive Producer, will be retiring at the end of this season.

In her pre-curtain speech on June 19th, Producing Artistic Director, Terri Kent wished me "Happy Birthday," and recognized my presence in the audience. Though greatly appreciated, I had to admit that the charming and thoughtful Terri was about a month early. The banter that pursued got a good laugh from the audience. THANKS TERRI! (The correct date is July 10 and I will be in the audience that day seeing GODSPELL.)

Tickets are available at 330-672-3884 or at the link below.


From This Author - Roy Berko

Roy Berko, a life-long Clevelander, holds degrees, through the doctorate from Kent State, University of Michigan and The Pennsylvania State University. Roy was an actor for many years, appearing in... (read more about this author)

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