Walking into the theatre the curtains were already open. A large screen faced us, static flashing in and out, fog seeping onto the stage. Lonely trashcans sat either side of the screen, power lines hanging overhead. The lights dimmed and the screen flashed to Lee Lin Chin reporting. Our most beloved media personality warns us of the deadly threat “in the seemingly most innocent and unlikely of places”.
A snazzy trio of 60’s corner girls welcomes us to the show singing Little Shop of Horrors Prologue with thrilling melodies and perfect choreography. I must admit they vocally carried this show, transforming every number into an upbeat, harmonised wonder. The trio almost acted as narrators, transforming this comedy rock show into a musical with punch.
The lead characters Seymour, played by Brent Hill, and Audrey, played by Ester Hannaford, are both equally as awkward and ignorant as each other but that’s what made them so loveable. Seymour is both the victim and the villain with Audrey II (the plant) conning him into doing the unthinkable to achieve his wildest dreams. Audrey’s innocent one liners and mannerisms added humour and a likeability to her. Her accent set the character perfectly and transferred well to her vocals. Their duets, particularly Suddenly Seymour, were a joy to witness with an added chemistry which allowed their relationship to unfold through the show.
One thing I loved about this show was the set design. Simplistic yet effective use of a shower screen style curtain to create a screen over the front of the flower shop set. With added projections, lighting and sound to change the set and mood, the show progressed smoothly from each setting to the next.
The plant and its transformation was a key part of the set and was successfully creepy and lifelike. The eery mood lingered and built as the plant grew. In the first act the cast and set were in black, white and grey, with only the plant in colour. As Seymour and Audrey grew together, as the business began to succeed, and as the plant continued to grow, the show grew in colour. The second act was vibrant, colours and lights contrasting against each other, the green of the plant still vivid against the set.
I must admit I’m struggling to find a fault with this musical. The intimacy of this show, with only nine cast and a small theatre, made it quite enjoyable. I was concerned that the size of the stage would effect my enjoyment but the use of space complimented the creepy atmosphere. The plant’s duets with Seymour were my favourite parts, and later I discovered Brent Hill was actually duetting with himself which confirmed my admiration of his versatility and flare.
Little Shop of Horrors was thoroughly enjoyable and filled with love, laughter and horror. I recommend this show to anyone who loves soft gore, humour and catchy musicals. Squeamish audiences beware: they imply more violence and carnage than they show but they do have a few (virtual) sprays of blood.
For more information, and to book tickets, head to the ticketek website!