LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS by The Cast
The Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton
I've seen several "Little Shop Of Horrors" over the years and this version by The Cast is up there with the very best. This is the first production I've had the pleasure of seeing by The Cast, having not being free to see "Bad Girls-The Musical" last year, but I know that this will not be the last.
Almost everyone will know the story of the mild mannered, meek shop assistant, Seymour, who buys a strange tropical plant and places it in his boss's flower shop window to attract custom in order to save the shop from closing down by its' owner Mr Mushnik. This would put him and his other, more glamorous assistant, Audrey, out of a job. The plant needs a special diet in order for it to flourish, and when it does, it makes Seymour a local and nationwide celebrity. And we all know the cost of that!
First off let me say that this has to be the biggest and most evil looking plant I've ever seen. It took three puppeteers to make it look as if it was alive. What a brilliant job Adam Richmond, Damon Pipes and John Carley did. Possibly the best Audrey 2 I've seen on stage.
In fact the whole cast of The Cast were so good. Seymour, who reminded me of Freddie Garrity from 60's band Freddie and The Dreamers, only younger, was a perfect choice in Craig Arme. Craig looked the complete geek, the zero to hero, but behind those Buddy Holly glasses lay a powerful voice which worked so well in musical theatre production.
Audrey has always been one of my favourite musical comedy female roles, I think the voice does it and the fashion sense (sorry I am a bloke after all), and Emily Marshall-Sims did not disappoint. Oh no, far from it, she was brilliant and again, what a voice, and amazing legs. When she sung the wistful "Somewhere That's Green" Emily painted pictures in the mind of that place she was dreaming of settling in to.
Mr Mushnik, again a perfect choice in John Maddison provided several comedy moments, especially when getting Seymour to become the "son" in Mushnik and Son and to stop him from thinking of taking Audrey 2 away from the newly flourishing business.
Orin, the dentist and sadistic boyfriend of Audrey was played wonderfully over the top and evilly by Christopher Collington. A touch of the Meatloaf about his acting, and by that I mean that he took the character and ran with it through every red light going. Great manic laughter and some great props for Orin too.
Kevin Chatten provides the voice of Audrey 2, which at the right time created a very sinister feeling with the evil plant. Great voice though!
This musical is not just about the main characters. There are two sets of backing singers who carry the story through. The six ladies who played Crystal, Ronette, Chiffon, Petula, Dusty and Urma (Emily, Claire, Kathi, Carrie, Mina and Katie) really created just the right atmosphere for the 60's ambience.
Must also mention Rob Holsman, who has great legs which he shows off as Mrs Luce!
The atmosphere is set even before the musical starts with some of the other actors milling around the theatre in character as down and outs. And it was also good to see other cast members using the seating and audience area to expand the performance area.
The band, under the musical direction of Dave Dallard were, as always exceptional,and what a drummer they have in Jack Helan. There was the occasional time when the singer on stage was a little drowned by the band but hey, it was the first night.
The set was one of the best that I have seen for "Horrors" using a two tier set which freed up a little more of the lower stage and gave Petula, Dusty and Urma a stage of their own so that they could backing sing and dance on. Martin Holtom is the man responsible for this great design.
"Horrors" has always been one of my favourite comedy musicals and The Cast certainly did not disappoint. Memorable songs include "Suddenly Seymour", "Skid Row", "The Meek Shall Inherit" and of course Orin's song, "The Dentist".
"Little Shop Of Horrors" is on at The Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton until Saturday 14 March 2015