Review: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS At The Pollard Is Horribly Fun

The Pollard presents the campy cult hit through July 1st.

By: Jun. 12, 2023
Review: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS At The Pollard Is Horribly Fun
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Two of the most influential composers behind the “Disney Renaissance”, Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, got their start in the world of the strange and interesting with Little Shop of Horrors. The 1982 Off-Broadway cult hit was sealed in memory forever with the 1986 musical film adaptation, which starred a young, black-haired Steve Martin. The nonsensical horror parody features Seymour, a well-meaning storefront employee at an earnest, yet failing, plant shop in New York City’s skid row. When he discovers a new genus of plant, he names it Audrey II after his coworker and secret crush. As the popularity of the plant begins to grow, so do the plant’s demands to be fed… blood. Little Shop is a silly, wild camp-fest that is filled with catchy tunes, cheesy props, and one truly dark cautionary tale.

The Pollard Theatre Company in Guthrie closes out their 35th season with this campy classic, and they’ve plucked the perfect director to lead the show. Matthew Alvin Brown is no stranger to camp, having previously directed both Little Shop and The Rocky Horror Show, that other musical cult classic. Little Shop follows a bit more plot than Rocky, though it’s not much more logical. Audiences should certainly suspend disbelief and embrace their weird side, and will no doubt enjoy this experience immensely when they do.

Brown has amassed a skilled set of players for this cast, and they all come to play and slay and keep it weird. Pollard artistic director Jared Blount is Seymour, and he really reaches deep to portray the lovable nerd. Blount is convincingly in love with Ellie Valdez as Audrey. Audrey is mistreated by her boyfriend, but she’s got big dreams. A standout moment for Blount and Valdez is their duet “Suddenly, Seymour”. Both Valdez and Blount are staples on The Pollard stage, and they never disappoint. They both embrace the outlandish plot while remaining professional and polished.

Timothy Stewart is fiendish as shopkeeper Mr. Mushnik. Stewart is slimy to a fault and keeps up pretenses to the very end. Joshua Morgan Thompson is quite maladjusted as Dr. Orin Scrivello, your friendly neighborhood sadist/dentist. Thompson is wild and unhinged and brings the house down with his rendition of the infamous “Dentist!”.

The Doo-Wop girls serve as narrators and spiritual guides on this journey, and each performer brings unique personality and appeal. De’Vin C. Lewis is Crystal, TerJuana Brooks is Ronnette, and Erin Thompson is Chiffon.

As Audrey II grows, she, or he… becomes increasingly vocal and independent. Larz Justice is deft as the Audrey II Puppeteer, and Kendon Lacy lends smoky, spooky vocals to the menacing plant.

Any musical without a band is really just karaoke, and the Pollard always presents the finest accompaniment. Jason Hunt is Music Director/bass, Steven Harris is Associate Music Director/piano, Roger Owens is on drums, Sheridan McMichael is on keys 2, and Bart Varner is on guitar.

Little Shop of Horrors is mostly spectacle, at times confusing, and a fun, wild ride throughout. The most cautionary message befits the overall tone of this show. You may think twice the next time you set foot into that local plant shop or propagate some of your neighbor’s new succulent. But as long as you remember that important phrase “Don’t feed the plants!” you’ll probably survive, thrive, and live to tell the tale again.




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