Storyhouse’s summer musical blockbuster Little Shop of Horrors is a schlock ’n’ roll success, writes Geraint Price
Happy Birthday, Storyhouse. You proved the naysayers wrong and are now held up to be the exemplar of the modern arts centre. Two years and over a million and a half visits later, what better way to celebrate than with a revival of Howard Atman and Alan Menken’s retro classic, Little Shop of Horrors. From its 1982 debut off-Broadway, to the 1986 Rick Moranis and Steve Martin movie version, the comedy has been a firm fan favourite for over three decades.
Mr Mushnik’s Skid Row florist shop has seen better days; business is dying faster than his roses. Dorky orphan shop boy Seymour (Joshua Lay) stumbles across a new variety of plant, which he dubs Audrey II, after his co-worker crush.
But Audrey (the co-worker, played by Michelle Bishop) has no interest in Seymour, rebuffing his advances and arriving at work daily with a series of injuries meted out by her abusive dentist boyfriend Orin.
Seymour pricks his finger on a rose thorn (the metaphors come thick and fast in this show) and discovers Audrey II has a taste for blood. Thus murder ensues.
The dentist is the first to be picked off – suffocating to death in a goldfish bowl helmet filled with nitrous oxide – to become a uniquely organic Baby Bio. The megalomaniacal Audrey II growing to be part Triffid, part Jabba the Hut.
Choreographer and director Stephen Mear somehow manages to keep a tight grip on the production that could so easily have lurched towards the pantomime.
Michelle Bishop’s delivery of Somewhere That’s Green – a touching paean to the American dream: “Still, that Seymour’s a cutie/Well, if not, he’s got inner beauty/ And I dream of a place/Where we could be together at last”, had this reviewer gnawing his lip.
Other big nods should go to Stephane Anelli (as, principally, the dentist, among other roles) who was deliciously, menacingly camp (with some borderline obscene dance moves), and Cindy Belliot, Emily-Mae and Tanisha Spring as the three Skid Row chorus girls.
Little Shop of Horrors is a comic homage rooted (yes, pun intended) in the B-Movie genre and runs until June 2. Tickets here.
Images courtesy of Mark McNulty