Tuesday, 6 September 2016

"Little Shop Of Horrors" by LAOS Loughborough Town Hall.

From an audience point of view, this is one musical that you can't go wrong with. It has everything going for it, comedy, great songs, romance as well as a dark, macabre man eating plant that lives on human flesh and blood, sado-masochism, greed, murder, lies and deceit. And all this in a couple of hours!
It's the story of a nerdy florist shop worker, Seymour, who raises a vicious, raunchy plant, Audrey 2, that feeds on human blood. He falls in love for his co worker, Audrey, but obstacles, in human form, are placed in the way of his fame and his romance.
Watching LSOH is like being in a dark room when a light is switched on. It lights up everything and makes you feel happy to be there and that's how this musical makes you feel.
But you can have the best musical in the world, but what if the cast don't deliver?
No fear of that here! I can't believe that this is only the second show I've seen by LAOS, the oldest Am Dram society in Loughborough, my first being "Half A Sixpence" earlier this year. What a brilliant cast they have amassed for this blood-thirsty, but fun musical.
James Highton, yet again takes the lead role as the wimpy, zero to hero Seymour, I've always professed that James has one of the best voices for musical theatre locally, and he again proved this with wonderful clarity and power. As soon as i knew that James was involved in this production, I just knew that he would be Seymour, A brilliant, fun role which James excelled in.
Laura Woolley (Audrey) played a blinder as the dotty co worker with the violent boyfriend. And I am so pleased that she played the role with a squeaky airhead voice as I have seen a couple of productions where Audrey's voice just left the character a bit flat. Not with Laura, the voice was spot on, she had the right amount of dizziness and the right amount of sex appeal there as well, very Marilyn Monroe esque. Lovely to look at and lovely to hear sing, especially the duet with Seymour, "Suddenly Seymour".
Mark Chinnery had the best Jewish accent for Mr Mushnik, the owner of the flower shop. And another wonderful, comedy duet with James Highton in the song "Mushnik and Son".
Chris Wilson is another one of those actors who, as soon as I knew he was in the production, i guessed his role. He was perfect for the role of the sado-masochistic, bullying sleazeball of a dentist and boyfriend to Audrey, Orin. So far removed from Chris's personality he looked to be enjoying every second of the maniacal role. His song, "Dentist" was sung with a great deal of sauce and egotism, just right for the character, and that laugh Chris produces for Orin will stay with you for long after you leave the theatre. Another powerful vocal performance as well.
Producing the voice for Audrey 2 was Richard York, and to look at Richard, you would not imagine that powerful soulful voice coming from Richard, Seeing him at the end in the finale, you still have to look twice to make sure that it is he who produced those wonderful Audrey 2 vocals.
The cast make the show look like a walk in the park, just shows how good they are, but technically there's a lot going on that you can't see. The puppetry of the plant is produced by Ian Dean and getting the big jaws of the plant to match Richard's vocals isn't easy. I've spoken to many puppeteers for Audrey 2 and this can be the hardest job, and while it didn't always lip sync exactly to the voice, it didn't matter because you buy into the evil, blood-thirsty plant and Ian did a cracking job, yet again proving the great team work within the LAOS company.Not only that but I imagine that great big puppet not being the easiest to manipulate.
An amazingly good ensemble with some lovely attitude shown by the girls who made up The Ronettes, Supremes and The Chirelles. several other ensemble members also doubling up on roles, making for some quick costume changes which all went smoothly.
There was an "aahhh" factor here as well in the song sung by Audrey "Somewhere That's Green" with the dream sequence, which may i add i can't remember seeing this bit done like this before, with the image of Audrey and Seymour happily married with two very cute kids played by Jude Bruton-Lang, as the son and Darcy O'Connor as the daughter.
James Highton described the sets as minimalist but that's just how it should be and the florist shop set was just right. the dentist scene was also just right with secretary desk as well as a waiting room and the dentist chair. Again in this scene I'm sure this was slightly different as there was a patient (Kevin Clarke) who matched Orin for sadism, as well as a bit of sauce, who Orin kicked out for being "weird" for enjoying pain being inflicted on him. well there can only be one Orin can;t there. A very comical scene which I'm sure that I'd have remembered if I'd seen it before.
Very energetic choreography, thanks to Lianne O'Connor. there seemed to be a fresh feel to the show which I'm sure will be the influence and directorial excellence of Sally Bruton. Whether this is because Sally is making her debut as a musical theatre director for an adult cast and is adapting her directing experience for younger casts, who knows. Whatever, it worked.

Musically the sound was spot on and the musical director, Hazel Needham, got the very best out of all of the vocalists, as well as producing a crystal clear music soundtrack.
I must also mention that before the show actually starts there's a lovely nod to the very early horror films of Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff etc with a "trailer" projected onto the set. after all LSOH started off as a "B Movie" style schlock horror film in the early 60's before the 70's musical film and stage production we all know and love.
When you go to see this not to be missed musical, please make sure that you buy a programme as well. It's wonderfully produced with a lovely retro-style picture spread of everyone involved.
This is one musical that you can take the whole family to see and enjoy, but hurry up as it's only on until Saturday 10 September 2016 at Loughborough Town Hall. And see if you can spot the little differences from other productions you may have seen in the past.

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