BWW Review: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at The Gateway
The Gateway Playhouse closes out an amazing and busy Summer season with a superb production of the musical Little Shop Of Horrors. This incarnation runs at the Bellport venue through September 9th boasting an outstanding Broadway caliber cast. Based on the classic 1960 film, book writer Howard Ashman pens - and writes the lyrics for - the theatre staple's heartfelt story. And Alan Menken's music is a fun fusion of 1960s rock and roll, doo-wop and Motown. You'll more than likely be familiar with the score's popular tunes including the title song and "Suddenly, Seymour".
In the tale, we follow lovable florist shop worker Seymour as he raises a new plant breed to boost his employer's - Mr. Mushnik portrayed by Ray DeMattis - struggling business located on run-down Skid Row. Gateway vet Jeremy Greenbaum strongly portrays the shy and well-meaning Seymour. An adorkable aura and terrific voice make him a natural for the role. Indeed a favorite is Mr. Greenbaum's rendition of "Grow For Me".
Seymour falls for co-worker Audrey - even naming the new plant Audrey II after her - wonderfully portrayed by Crystal Kellogg. You begin to feel for Audrey because she is sweet, but she has this mentality that she doesn't deserve nice things or a great guy like Seymour. Ms. Kellogg balances her comedic delivery and emotional performances well and the enthusiastic audience responds resoundingly.
Highlights also include Courtney Daniels, Moeisha McGill, and Jerusha Cavazos who deliver absolutely stunning performances as The Urchins; Ms. Daniels portraying Crystal, Ms. McGill portraying Ronnette, and Ms. Cavazos portraying Chiffon. They appear throughout the show to give a running commentary, addressing the audience at some points, and are also part of the story. They are smart, sassy, and their voices blend so beautifully together.
Special kudos also to John Rochette who is absolutely hilarious as Orin - the sadistic dentist - and also portrays several other characters. Additionally, the venus flytrap type of plant that Seymour creates comes to life operated by John Hoche with Trent Armand Kendall providing the booming voice. Yes, the plant talks (and sings, for that matter!).
As for the clever creative team, Brittany Loesch's set is very well done obviously having the aging florist shop and a constantly growing Audrey II the centerpiece of the set. This is enhanced stunningly by Doug Harry's top-notch lighting and Robert McGarrity's stirring sound design.
And so, the Gateway's Little Shop Of Horrors is a great way to end this quick Summer we've had. A brilliant cast and endearing story make for a fun night of theatre.
Little Shop Of Horrors is presented at the Gateway Playhouse in Bellport, Long Island, through September 9th. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call 631-286-1133 or visit www.thegateway.org.
By Howard Ashman (Book & Lyrics) and Alan Menken (Music), Directed & Choreographed by Keith Andrews (Gateway: Director and/or Choreographer of The Rocky Horror Show, Saturday Night Fever, Regional Premiere of Rock of Ages, The Addams Family, South Pacific, Spamalot, My Fair Lady, 9 to 5, The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Wedding Singer), Associate Director/Choreographer Vincent Ortega (Broadway: Mamma Mia!) Stage Management by John "JP" Pollard, Orchestrations by Robert Merkin, Vocal Arrangements by Robert Billig, Musical Direction by Andrew Haile Austin, Set Design by Brittany Loesch, Puppet Design by Martin P. Robinson, Wig Design by Amber Martin, Lighting Design by Doug Harry, Sound Design by Robert McGarrity, Casting by Michael Baker
Starring Jeremy Greenbaum (Gateway: Rent; Broadway: Newsies; Off-Broadway: The Fantasticks;), Crystal Kellogg (Broadway: Finding Neverland, School of Rock; National Tours: Finding Neverland, Kinky Boots, Pajama Game), Ray DeMattis (Gateway: Anything Goes, director of Grease; Broadway: Fiorello!, Little Shop Of Horrors, City Of Angels, Zoya's Apartment, and the original production of Grease) John Rochette (Broadway: Jersey Boys; Off-Broadway Blue Man Group; Regional: Bullets Over Broadway, Spamalot, et.al.), Trent Armand Kendall (Los Angeles: Scottsboro Boys; New York: Bat Boy The Musical, Nunsense A-Men!, et. al.) John Hoche (Off-Broadway: Vietgone, Soul Samurai, et. al.; National Tour: War Horse), Courtney Daniels (National/International Tours: Shrek, The Musical; Regional: The Drowsy Chaperone, Gypsy, et. al.), Moeisha McGill (Broadway: Motown, Mamma Mia!, Rent), and Jerusha Cavazos (Regional: Aida, Evita, Ragtime, et. al.)
Photo by Jeff Bellante