Wantage Stage Musical Company Review of Little Shop of Horrors April 2012


Books and lyrics by Howard Ashman – Music by Alan Menkin

A Musical – performed by The Wantage Stage Musical Company

Three winos set the scene in Skid Row, leaving their empties outside Mushnik’s run-down flower shop.  Four stroppy teenagers, (Katie Hamblin, Jessica Joy Dancy, Lisa Ratcliffe and Rachel Pullen) start the show off with a bounce and nice harmonies with ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ – good 60s scruffy outfits and synchronised movements.

Mr Mushnik nicely played by Michael Hurd, with clear diction in spite of his accent, sings that no-one buys his flowers or plants and blames his assistant, Seymour (Chas Hart).   Seymour is hopelessly in love with the other assistant, Audrey (Sarah Fell).  Sarah conveyed the vulnerability and charm  of Audrey but needs a little more power in her voice – all characters were miked – such a shame we have to see the black boxes of the mikes at the back of some of the costumes.  

Audrey arrives next day with a very black eye, evidently from her boyfriend the dentist Orin (Andy Thomas).  Orin likes to think he’s Elvis and enjoys the pain he inflicts on his patients and Audrey. (Thought the black eye was a bit too black.)  Andy really enjoyed himself as Elvis causing great giggles from the audience.  More nice harmonies and movements from the Doo-wap 4 in ‘Skid Row’.

It was a good idea to put the five piece band up in a side gallery but I think some times the artists couldn’t hear the backing and a few notes were lost.

Chaz Hart as Seymour wanted to help Mr Mushnik and stumbles on a plant that will only feed from human blood.  With the publicity of this new plant (although not what it feeds on) come the crowds to buy Mr Mushnik’s flowers – Seymour has to find more ‘food’ for the plant – the cruel dentist is fed to the plant!  Then more bodies have to be found and Seymour eventually loses the only thing he loves, Audrey.

The 2nd Act begins with Audrey and Seymour trying to cope with all the telephone requests for flower deliveries – I felt this song should have been quicker conveying more frantic disorder.  The plant is now enormous, indeed it took up most of the quite small stage making it really difficult for the actors to negotiate their moves.  Full marks therefore to Chaz for using good stage craft and making it look easy.

I suspect that having hired the growing plant it was a nightmare for the actors to work around, this is the problem with hiring of course, no time for the rehearsal that is needed.  However the Directors obviously steered their cast well.

Congratulations must go to The Voice of the plant, well sung and spoken by Myles Osborn-Benton and to the two Plant puppeteers, (Suzanne Parrott and Martin Perry)

Chris Jones organised the wardrobe well and with Lighting (Chris Osland), Sound (Rob Evans) and set including Plant !! (Gareth Evans)

Musical Director (Elisa Jane Stott) organised the harmonies very well and Co Directors Sarah Carter and Rob Thorpe should be congratulated on a very entertaining production.

Deidre Jones