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Little Shop of Horrors

a Musical Comedy
by Howard Ashman (words) & Alan Menken (music)

COMPANY : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
ID# 5109

SHOWING : July 15, 2017 - August 20, 2017



Down on Skid Row, budding botanist Seymour Krelbourn is down on his luck and secretly in love with his coworker Audrey. When he discovers a new species of plant that promises him unending fame and fortune, he thinks all his problems are solved – the only catch is the plant is a bloodthirsty carnivore bent on world domination! Don’t miss AE’s horrifically hilarious take on one of the longest-running musicals in off-Broadway history. 

Audrey II Kandice Arrington
Audrey Kylie Brown
Orin Clint Clark
Ensemble Abby Holland
Mushnik Bill Murphey
Ronette Trevor Perry
Ensemble Emily Stembridge
Seymour Juan Carlos Unzueta
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Little Flop of Horrors
by playgoer
Saturday, August 5, 2017
Actor’s Express doesn’t put on bad shows. Misguided sometimes, but never incompetently unprofessional. "Little Shop of Horrors" fits the run-of-the-mill bill for Actor’s Express. There are good elements and so-so elements, not adding up to anything special.

Let’s start with the set, designed by Isabel & Moriah Curley-Clay. It’s impressive, with lots of nice touches -- a "free electricity" sign near an outlet, a clock that moves to the times mentioned in the play, window coverings that roll up as the Mushnik florist shop opens for the day. But the shop is a big square with audience on two sides, and the right angle at the downstage corner presents severe sightline challenges for scenes taking place when the florist shop is closed. A curved corner would have allowed at least three precious feet of additional room for these scenes (but would have complicated the window covering mechanism).

Heather Schroeder’s props don’t include any particularly good-looking flowers, and the trick hand for Seymour’s pot is glaringly obvious in the close quarters of Actor’s Express. Erik Teague’s jacket to hide Seymour’s arm in this scene is likewise clumsy. Otherwise, costumes work well for the major characters. For the three "urchin" backup singers, though, the outfits are equal parts glamorous and tacky.

Ryan Bradburn, the puppet designer, has an easier job than in most productions, with the big Audrey II plant capped by a visible Kandice Arrington. The puppet itself flaps runners like floppy legs and occasionally widens its labia dentata opening, but its growth is represented only by Ms. Arrington standing up taller. She has a terrific costume, and being able to see her lips moving helps the understandability of her lyrics, but the explicit anthropomorphizing lessens the impact of the ending.

Rick Lombardo has directed his major actors to give somewhat mannered performances and hasn’t inspired his ensemble and trio players to give very involved performances. Of the minor players, only Abby Holland impresses with her acting choices. Juan Carlos Unzueta’s performance as Seymour is broader than it need be, and his hairstyle is more modern than the supposed time period of the show. He has a lovely tenor voice; unfortunately, Seymour’s song are too much in the baritone range to show his voice off to advantage. William S. Murphey invests Mr. Mushnik with a lot of energy, but is directed to give animated cartoon villain sounds on one exit. Clint Clark works hard as Orin, but doesn’t have a naturally charismatic comic presence that would really make his performance succeed. Kylie Brown shines. She uses a mannered style of singing for Audrey, but she lets the sweetness of her character shine through every word and reaction.

Amanda Wansa Morgan has gotten good vocal performances out of everyone, and Angela Harris does about as much with choreography as the right-angled alley playing space allows. Joseph P. Monaghan III’s lighting design keeps things visible (despite an over-use of stage fog), and the sound design by Angie Bryant and Adam Howarth keeps things audible and balanced. It’s all professional, but it’s not inspired.

The lauded twists in this production -- casting a cross-dressing male as one of the trio and having a visible female human portray Audrey II -- work just fine, but don’t add anything special to the production. There’s a lot of professional effort and money pumped into this production, but it doesn’t create a "Little Shop of Horrors" that is significantly better than most school or community theatre productions of this off-Broadway musical. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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