BWW Review: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS Brings a Big Appetite to Broadway At Music Circus
What do a sadistic dentist, a floral shop owner, a meek plant-lover, and a girl with low self-esteem all have in common? Find out when you see the Music Circus premiere of Little Shop of Horrors at Broadway at Music Circus! Based on the 1966 cult-classic film of the same name, the musical features a score by Alan Menken (of Newsies, Beauty and the Beast, and Little Mermaid fame) in the style of 1960s doo-wop, Motown and rock, and book and lyrics by Howard Ashman (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast).
We are welcomed to the "Little Shop of Horrors" by a trio of street urchins (Destinee Rea, Zonya Love, and Zuri Washington) who foreshadow the upcoming disaster with a Supremes-like number ("...watch 'em drop, little shop of horrors...Shing-a-ling, what a creepy thing to be happening...") and serve running commentary as the show progresses. Audience-goers will recognize Zonya Love as last season's effusive Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act. Powerful vocals ensure that these ladies stay in the forefront of your consciousness even when they're humming background harmonies in the near-dark.
Lovesick Seymour (Jared Gertner) emerges with an unknown plant (named Audrey II) that appeared during a recent solar eclipse. It languishes in the flower shop, where Seymour works for the cantankerous Mr. Mushnik (Michael Kostroff), until Seymour accidentally discovers that the only thing that will make it grow is blood ("Grow For Me"). Gertner's earnest and naive Seymour is inherently likable, for he has built a repertoire of this character skill-set from previous roles, most notably Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon on Broadway. Adorable, submissive, endearing, and astonishingly talented? That's Jared Gertner.
Seymour's muse and coworker is the sweet and not-so-bright Audrey (Sarah Litzsinger), whose low self-worth compels her to stay with her sadistic dentist boyfriend (Jamison Stern). Unbeknownst to Seymour, she secretly longs to leave the dentist and escape with him and live a life of anonymity in the suburbs ("Somewhere That's Green"). Litzsinger's bouncy walk and Brooklyn accent give life to poor Audrey, humanizing her and making us root for her in the hopes that she gets her tract house and 12" t.v.
As Seymour and Audrey discover their true feelings for one another, Audrey II presents Seymour with a Faustian dilemma-feed the plant at all costs and have all of your desires come true, or stand firm in your ideals and stay on Skid Row forever? Voiced by the inimitable Ken Page, Audrey II is a powerhouse to be reckoned with. The sheer magnitude of Page's dynamic voice catapults Audrey II to the ilk of super villain.
As we wind down the summer and, sadly, close out the Music Circus season, I can't imagine a better way to go into fall than with the campy Little Shop of Horrors. Its music and comedically macabre book will carry me to Halloween, when I can then enjoy a new season of musicals with Broadway Sacramento. If you enjoy humor, horror, or incredible performances, get your tickets right away-the audiences are eating up this classic!
Tickets for Little Shop of Horrors start at $45, and are available by phone at (916) 557-1999, online at www.Tickets.com, or in person at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street in Sacramento. Evening performances are Tuesday through Saturday, August 21-25, at 7:30 p.m.; matinee performances are Thursday, August 23 and Saturday, August 25 at 2:00 p.m., and Sunday, August 26 at 3:00 p.m. For more information, visit www.BroadwaySacramento.com.
Photo credit: Charr Crail