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Review: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at Stagecrafters Astounds With Feats in Puppeteering and Local Talent

Review: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at Stagecrafters Astounds With Feats in Puppeteering and Local Talent

See the hit show just in time for Halloween, now through October 23rd.

America's favorite musical about a man-eating alien plant, Little Shop of Horrors, has come to Stagecrafters in Royal Oak, now through October 23rd. This cult classic musical is based on the 1960 film, and a few years after opening on Broadway, the musical was adapted into another movie in 1986 starring the likes of Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, John Candy, and Steve Martin. With an award-winning score by such stage and screen composers as Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, this show is, without a doubt, one you have to see to truly appreciate.

In short, Little Shop of Horrors focuses on a faltering florist shop in the grimy Skid Row. More specifically, it's about what happens when unassuming botany enthusiast Seymour Krelborn comes across a bloodthirsty plant from another world. The story may sound silly, and it is, but nevertheless it is a story that has resonated with audiences for more than 60 years.

Metro Detroiters have come to expect high quality entertainment from the team at Stagecrafters, and Little Shop is certainly no exception - this production certainly lives up to the legacy of this iconic show. Perhaps one can attribute the success of this show to the astounding set pieces, the lighting design, or the talented live orchestra and cast. All in all, however, the sheer multitude of things that can go right in a theatre production went right in Stagecrafters' production of Little Shop.

Of course, one of the most exciting aspects of this show is seeing how each production makes the plant puppet move. That said, Stagecrafters did an excellent job of making their Audrey II plant (puppeteered by Josh Gray) come to life. The plant goes through many stages of growing throughout the story, and with each stage, the puppet grows more and more impressive. Without fully spoiling one of the best parts of the show, just know that you're in for a special treat that encapsulates the infinite heights that community theatre can reach, given the talent, effort, and resources.

Close-up on Audrey II
Close-up on Audrey II

With Stagecrafters, you're about always guaranteed to be entertained with a dedicated and talented cast. Panos Varlamos's Seymour Krelborn convincingly portrays the awkward botanist as he descends into alient plant madness. A particular highlight of the show is William Scott Davison and Varlamos's rendition of the fan-favorite number, "Feed Me (Git It)." As Audrey II, Davison's voice is commanding, yet exudes an aura of pure hilarity that fills the theatre with laughter.

Varlamos's chemistry with Edmond Guay, who plays shop owner Mr. Mushnik, was also a delight. A former drama teacher (of director Jeff LaMothe, interestingly enough), Guay successfully adds his personal touch to the character's mannerisms. This certainly helps add dimension to the character, who on the surface is just a down-on-his-luck businessman. Gage Soucie is another example of this, playing sadistic dentist Orin Scrivello (and others). While he seems to take inspiration from Martin's version of the character in the 1986 film, Soucie's comedic timing throughout the show is particularly a joy to watch.

As (the human) Audrey, Taylor Smith shined every time she had the spotlight, most especially during the song made famous by Ellen Greene, "Somewhere That's Green." Smith's delivery of this heart-wrenching song that still rings poignant today will surely surpass your wildest expectations.

No production of Little Shop is complete without the trio of street urchins, Crystal, Ronette, and Chiffon, which in this production is played by Tan Mason, N'Jeri Nicholson, and Stacey Barrett, respectively. Their larger-than-life voices seem to carry throughout nearly every song in the show. Since the trio works phenomenally together, their effort in building these characters grounds this unrealistic story in reality and serves as a connective thread for the show.

No minute of Little Shop of Horrors at Stagecrafters goes by without being in awe. There are moments that will make you laugh, there are moments that may make you cry, and there are other moments that will, quite literally, just take your breath away.

In short: This remarkable production of a monumental show is one you can't miss.


Little Shop of Horrors runs at Stagecrafters' Baldwin Theatre in Royal Oak until October 23rd. For more information and tickets to the show, visit www.stagecrafters.org.

Connect with Stagecrafters on Twitter at @StagecraftersMI, on Instagram at @stagecraftersmi, and on Facebook at facebook.com/StagecraftersMI.


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