Little Shop of Horrors

by Will Demers
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Apr 16, 2019
Audrey II and Jude Sandy in "Little Shop of Horrors" at the Trinity Repertory Company through May 12.
Audrey II and Jude Sandy in "Little Shop of Horrors" at the Trinity Repertory Company through May 12.  

A boy, a girl, and a weird little plant. Boy raises plant, gets girl and they all live happy ever after. Or, do they? A 1960 low budget horror film (that featured Jack Nicholson in a small, but memorable role) is the template for the 1982 off-Broadway musical that is campy, visually stunning and most of all, really fun!

"Little Shop of Horrors" is the brainchild of Howard Ashman (book and lyrics) and Alan Menken (music), who brought us "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin" for Disney. Seymour (Jude Sandy) is the underdog employee of Mushnik (Stephen Berenson) who owns a really unsuccessful flower shop on skid row, here set in our home city of Providence. The only other employee is Audrey (Rebecca Gibel) who is just as unsuccessful in her own dating choices.

Mushnik is ready to close his shop for good until Seymour presents him with a strange plant bought on skid row that he cannot identify. Putting the new flower in the window is just the right thing to do and it opens up a whole new wave of business. Trouble is Seymour can't identify the plant at all, only to learn it is a bloodthirsty alien from another world. Does it need water? Nope, it needs to kill to grow, and it isn't killing just anything, it needs people.

The result, under the direction of Tyler Dobrowski, is pure musical magic. Berenson is spot on as Mushnik, whose comedic talents are well used here. Some of the funniest moments come from Stephen Thorne as Orin, the sadistic dentist boyfriend of Audrey's. His number "Be A Dentist" nearly stops the show, and the delightful Timothy Crowe appears in a variety of roles. The three women, Chiffon, (Carla Martinez) Crystal (Elexis Morton) and Ronnette (Kedren Spencer) who serve as the Greek chorus of the show, are absolutely wonderful.

Sara Brown's set colorful set design highlights the musical's campy aspect, and Andrew Jean's costumes are great fun. But the stars are who they should be, Sandy's Seymour is fun and he knows how to handle some great physical comedy, and Gibel is clearly enjoying her delightful Audrey. Rachael Warren as the voice of the evil plant Audrey Two is an inspired departure from using male vocalists in the part as is usually the case. She even appears onstage in a glittery green costume to enact the plants' evil machinations.

Speaking of the plant, Ted Chylack's (former stage manager at Trinity) puppeteering skills are on point, and the puppets provided by Monkey Boys Productions are well executed. As colorful as the sets and costumes, Audrey Two is a star in her own right, and this production of "Little Shop" is not to be missed. It may be the musical that you bring your whole family to see.

"Little Shop of Horrors" is running through May 12th at Trinity Repertory Company 201 Washington Street, Providence, RI. For information or tickets call 401-351-4242 or visit www.trinityrep.com

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