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BWW Review: Don't Feed the Plants! Do See LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at Portland Center Stage

You know the songs by heart, you have complicated feelings about the dentist (Steve Martin could never really be that bad, right?), and, admit it, you always secretly root for the plant. If any of this rings true, then go right now and buy your tickets to LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at Portland Center Stage. It will fulfill all of your "rock musical horror comedy" fantasies. (Rock musical horror comedy -- that's how Wikipedia describes it. Are there any other shows in this genre?)

When PCS artistic director Chris Coleman came out to welcome everyone to opening night, the first thing he said was: "Are you ready?"

That simple question perfectly captured the mood of anticipation in the theatre. I'm willing to bet that most of the audience -- myself included -- grew up, or had kids who grew up, watching the 1986 movie. And, knowing what was to come, there were so many questions! How would they do the plant? Could anyone live up to Ellen Greene? How would it end? (It was only a few years ago that I learned the movie ending is not the musical ending. If you didn't know that, don't google it! Just go see the show and be surprised.)

I'm not giving away the answer to the third question, so here are the first two.

The plant is way cool. There are actually four Audrey Twos, from small hand-puppet size to full two-person puppet size, all built in-house at PCS. You can watch a video of the puppets being created on the PCS Facebook page.

As for the second question, it must be tough to step into a role that's so associated with one person. Both Gina Milo and Nick Cearley do a great job of paying tribute to the version we all know while also making the roles of Audrey and Seymour their own. I also very much enjoyed Jamison Stern, particularly in all of the roles he played that weren't the dentist, as well as Johari Nandi Mackey, Alexis Tidwell, and Ebony Blake as the snarky girl group/Greek chorus that keeps watch over everything.

Overall, this production was everything I wanted in LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. The music was great, the acting was great, and even though I knew when the jokes were coming, they were still funny. It was a great choice for a PCS season opener -- and it fills me with anticipation for what's to come.

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS runs through October 16. Be sure to get it on your calendar. More info and tickets here.

Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel

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