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Little Shop of Horrors
by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken

COMPANY : South Forsyth High School
VENUE : South Forsyth High School
ID# 911

SHOWING : March 25, 2004 - March 27, 2004



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Don't it go to show ya never know?
by Okely Dokely
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
“Little Shop of Horrors” was my favorite movie as a little kid, and is still one of my favorite movie musicals. The stage version is #4 in my Top Ten Favorite Musicals list, I have now seen two productions of LSOH, and have done this show before, in another one of my favorite performances. I want to be in it about a million more times, plus I’d love to direct it one day.

All that being said, it has been a great couple of weeks, where I’ve gotten to see the two shows that are probably my two fondest musical theatre memories. I have been consistently underwhelmed by just about all the high school productions I’ve seen since my graduation (and some even before that), but South Forsyth High School’s recent incarnation of “Little Shop” is riddled with flashes of absolute brilliance which distinguishes it from the typical high school fare I’ve had to wade through. I could easily see the trap door that the actors who were eaten by the plant could use to escape backstage, and I wish the clock in the shop had been consistent with the time it was supposed to be, but there was at least one set change that I still can’t figure out how it was done. I’m sure there were a couple more, too. The set and the lighting were the most inspired that I’ve seen since the Kudzu Playhouse did “Blood Brothers” back in October. This production featured a huge ensemble that acted as both Skid Row bums and stagehands, and every single set change was seamless and quick. The townspeople were put to very good use, and were never annoying or superfluous. There were no more than a handful of set and prop issues I had, such as the appearance of the plant. I must say that this was the shabbiest-looking Audrey 2 I’ve ever seen. Picture a huge green beanbag chair with a mouth, and no pot. A2’s head was resting on the ground from “Closed For Renovation” on. Furthermore, there were no chairs in the shop, which made some of the action (Seymour using the typewriter) look painfully awkward. And finally, were we supposed to believe Orin’s dentist’s office was out in the street? The usually tedious and monotonous “Now (It’s Just the Gas)” scene was wonderfully played out by the two actors, but the DDS chair was literally outside the shop, with Dr. Scrivello apparently keeping his special gas mask in the alley around the corner. This was something that a curtain closing or even partial stage lighting could have solved.

Speaking of Orin, my favorite performance of the night was the young man playing the Audrey-beating, nitrous-oxide-inhaling demented sadist. Finally we have someone who is the best Dentist since Steve Martin without being a carbon copy of Martin’s classic performance. This Orin goes back to the roots of the character and channels Elvis, while being fantastically original at the same time. The highlight of this Audrey – and sadly, about the only thing I can remember about her performance – was when she belted out her verse of “Suddenly, Seymour.” “Somewhere That’s Green” was nothing short of genius, but it wasn’t due to her, but rather to the two individuals in the ensemble portraying her fantasy by melodramatically acting out all the lyrics, with a hint of ballet added in. This was the kind of outside-the-box thinking that I adored about this production, but I’m afraid things like that may have overshadowed the female lead, because it seemed as if she was hardly in the show at all. I think you could also blame it on the totally winning, animated, show-stealing performance of the actress playing Crystal, who was always so much fun to watch. Joel Hughes as Seymour made several acting choices that I really liked, but I couldn’t completely get past the physical build of the actor (too tall) versus my vision of the character. I felt he needed more urgency in Act 2 when things really start to get stressful, and he was obviously a baritone [evidenced by his inability to hit the high notes in the “I don’t know” part during his duet with A2], although I saw one Seymour who had an even harder time with the high stuff.

The sound situation was shaky, but not unbearable. Aside from the Usual Suspects of high school mistakes (an off-key trio, singers out of rhythm/not together with the orchestra, and some flat out missed lyrics), I’ve definitely heard much worse in recent months. I just wish the keyboards were louder, and because of their failure to have the body mics on during the speaking parts, the important dialogue during “Suppertime” could not be heard at all.

All in all, though, the things I remember most are the moments of brilliance. It was a pleasure to hear the vocalists borrowing some of the most creative nuances from the New Broadway Cast recording; it made me smile knowingly. My faith has been restored in the potential of high school productions, and if you want salvation from HS show blues, venture on up to South Forsyth for something a little better and different. But whatever they offer you, don’t feed the plants – especially with beanbags.


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