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Little Shop of Horrors


16 - 19th May 2007


Howard Ashman & Alan Menken


Chrissy Watson



I would like to start by saying that, because I mixed up the nights and was unable to go on the night for which I had a ticket, I had to opt for a seat near the back on the night that I could go. However, this proved to be a very good test of quality of a show given the hall with its flat floor and flat, low stage

The programme was typical of the care taken over the production – it wasn’t just a piece of scrappy A4.

I was pleased to see the tabs open – it is nice for the audience to have a view other than blue tabs, although the set could have been lit. The set was very good indeed, using a colour of the early 60s - garish orange? My only minor query was about the flatness of the colour and whether the wall might have had some texture or character added.

The style was just right - both the era and the necessary exaggeration. I liked the signs spreading outside the proscenium arch, NY view, the clock with the moving hands - big exaggerated & bold! Perhaps there could have been more of a transformation in Act 2 to reflect the improvement in Mushnik’s business.

The stage was crowded in the chorus numbers – perhaps the stage could have been extended.

Props were great - body parts and the nitrous oxide helmet were particular favourites.

Costumes were also good - from Seymour's suitably geeky tank top to the men and women in white coats at the end. I particularly liked the various colourful transformations of the girl group - especially the sparkly purple frocks.

Lighting served its purpose well. I particularly liked the special on the clock, completely unrealistic and completely right for the show. The lights closed in very nicely in the Act 2 duet with Seymour and Audrey.

I was hard to do anything but praise the music – a small, tight band who played well. The balance between band and singers using radio mikes was fine. I would, however, have liked to have seen the band out front, especially in this style of show.

The choreography was effective. On a small, crowded stage it was simple and stylised. I especially liked the different movements of the different groups in “Skid Row”.

There were no weak links in the performance. American accents ranged from sound to very authentic NY. The diction was clear and the volume excellent, even in Row N! I heard every spoken word and most of the words of the songs too. Lots of Brownie points for actors and director. The chorus had plenty of attack - loud and vigorous and good to listen to. Quite a wide range of contrasting and tuneful solo voices; for example, there were some nice cameo performances in “The Meek Shall Inherit”.

The trio - Chiffon, Crystal and Ronette - all sang and acted well. Their voices were all quite different but I didn't think that mattered. They didn't smile much - slightly sinister effect?

One of the first characters we see is Mushnik. Richard's clarity and volume were impressive throughout. He sang well and I certainly got some sense of Mushnik's selfishness and self-centredness.

The dentist - John Bohan is a big actor in every sense - dominated the stage from the moment he entered, good accent, very good singer, played the villain with great attack and pace and energy. I really enjoyed his performance - he hit exactly the right note for the role and the style of the piece. I was sorry to see him eaten.

Will was a terrific nerd….. as Seymour - a very strong performance. Hang on to him if you can - young men who can act and sing are like gold dust.

Jane Maisey as Audrey was first class - totally in character, nice comic touches and a beautiful singing voice - a real pleasure to listen to. “Somewhere That's Green” and “Suddenly Seymour” with Will and the backing trio, were two songs I particularly enjoyed.

Last but by no means - the plant. I don't know how you did it but I really believed the plant could speak and sing. Full marks to the various operators and of course to Simon - was the booming deep southern voice stolen? It doesn't matter, it was great - a shorthand way of giving the plant character - worked superbly.

I genuinely enjoyed the show. Act 1 was perhaps a little stronger than Act 2 , but that may be more in the writing than the performance - but refreshing to see a musical end unsentimentally with both the romantic leads dead!

This was a well directed show. Chrissy Watson has succeeded in drawing out strong performances from chorus and principals. She got the basics right - volume and clarity, the show had pace, energy and vigour. All the elements were well co-ordinated and served each other well. The style, both of playing and visually, was right and above all, the attention to detail . Going the extra distance has paid off.

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