Little Shop of Horrors: The Show that Bites Back

imageGot green fingers? Have an interest in the relaxing world of horticulture? Well think again! Having green fingers may be seen as a remarkable skill, but in this case, you need to be careful where you put them. These plants BITE!

On Saturday evening, I came along to the Lower Ossington Theatre’s brand new production of cult classic musical, Little Shop of Horrors, which premiered on March 24th.

As mentioned in my previous post, Little Shop of Horrors follows the story of Seymour (Hugh Ritchie), who works day in-day out in Mushnik’s Flower Shop, owned by his somewhat childhood guardian Mr Mushnik (Andrew Soutter). The business is failing, no-one is ordering bouquets with them any more…not even a funeral wreath. In reality, the business itself is the one that needs the funeral wreath, as it is dying around them by the second.

Working alongside them is beautiful and kind-hearted shop assistant Audrey (Jessica Harb), whom Seymour has a huge crush on…despite their awkward encounters. However, Audrey already has a boyfriend, Orin Scrivello (Joey Graff)… a most violent individual with a sadistic personality and an addiction to nitrous oxide…so what better profession for him to be in, than that of a dentist.

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When Mr Mushnik announces his intent to close up shop and throw the towel in, Audrey encourages Seymour to show their boss the botanical project he has been working on after-hours. Here we are introduced to his colorful, rare and unusual plant that he bought from a man during the last solar eclipse, which he has named Audrey II, after his secret sweetheart.

Audrey II immediately becomes an overnight sensation when it is placed in the window, attracting new customers and bringing back previous ones who had long ago lost interest in the failing florist. But just as customer numbers are booming, the attractive plant starts to wither. Seymour is anxious and uses every horticultural remedy known to man, with little or no success. In the midst of all this worry, he cuts his finger on the plant, which brings it back to life. He soon realizes that Audrey II thrives on blood and the only way to keep it alive and customer flow steady, is to keep delivering a fresh supply of blood to it each day.

The only problem is, as Audrey II increases in size, from the once tiny pot-plant to an enormous wonder, a few drops of blood from a paper cut isn’t going to suffice its ever-growing appetite. Seymour is left with the morally challenging situation…does he let the business fail, or does he use any way possible to make its success continue?

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Throughout the show, I could not stop laughing at the humor mixed into each fantastic scene and memorable dialogue. For those reading the initial synopsis, one may assume that the show is quite dark, but this is not the case. I have never seen a musical that could have you bellowing with laughter at the most unusual situations.

The musical numbers were phenomenal, but what more could you expect from music and lyrics written by the famous Alan Menken (Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Sister Act, Enchanted). Songs like “Closed For Renovation” will have you moving your shoulders and hips to the catchy beat and fun lyrics, whereas others like “Somewhere That’s Green” will remind you of long forgotten dreams.

One thing I must not forget to mention was the absolutely mind-blowing set construction by Michael Galloro. Every time I attend any shows at the LOT, set design is second to none, as they surprise me every time. I do not want to spoil it for you, but you will be amazed with how the set transforms throughout the show, from the interior of Mushnik’s flower shop to the exterior streets scenes.

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But what about the stars of the show? The first actors you are introduced to at the beginning are school-girls/soul sisters Ronette*, Crystal and Chiffon, who were played by the fabulous Michele Shuster, Liana Lewis and Stephanie Megraw-Fabian on the night. These 3 characters are in almost every scene, and help to tie the whole story together with their musical interpretation, smooth moves and sassy personalities. Having already been introduced to both Michelle and Liana from previous show “The Life,” I was looking forward to seeing them in a whole new light, and once again, they did not disappoint.

Jessica Harb, as always, proved to be the perfect touch of sweetness to this incredible musical. She was made for the role of Audrey, as she portrayed her cute but shy personality down to a T. The scenes between her and Seymour were believable and professionally executed, and her voice was simply sublime when singing the romantic duet, “Suddenly Seymour.”

The laughs without a doubt came from the character of Dentist Orin Scrivello, played by comedically talented  Joey Graff. As soon as this bad-boy is introduced to the audience, as the violent, creepy lover of Audrey…you will surprisingly fall in love with him and his hilarious actions. He is the baddie that you cannot help but adore. And your admiration for this character is only heightened when you watch him perform the side-splitting songs, “Dentist!” and “Now (It’s Just The Gas).” 

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However, Hugh Ritchie, who played Seymour and Andrew Soutter, who played Mr Mushnik were the 2 performers who did it for me. The last time I saw Hugh perform, it was in the LOT’s production of West Side Story, where he was the male lead in this story also. Hugh is not just a pleasure to watch, but his strong talented voice has the ability to interpret the emotion of the lyrics perfectly. Andrew, however, brought that extra bit of fun to each scene, and this was truly evident in the musical number, “Mushnik & Son,” where both Hugh and Seymour treated audiences to a wonderful, flamboyant performance, where they salsa danced, pirouetted and even piggy-backed their way throughout the song; proving them to be a class act.

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Credit must also be given to a character duo, who are not seen throughout the show, but played a huge part…and this is Bryan Kling (voice of Audrey II) and Evan Sokolowski (Puppeteer of Audrey II). The combination of vocal and puppeteer talents was wonderful and I had huge respect for how they achieved the end result.

If you are looking for a great show to see, get down to the Lower Ossington Theatre from March 24th to May 14th 2017 to see Little Shop of Horrors. You will laugh from beginning to end, and is the perfect way to spend your weekend. With live performances from Fridays through to Sundays, what more could you ask for this Spring weekend?

Tickets can be purchased at the theatre box office at 100A Lower Ossington Avenue, Toronto, or can be purchased in advance online, by clicking HERE.

Hope you all enjoy this hilarious and fun-filled show. Let me know how you get on. And remember…DON’T FEED THE PLANTS.

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*Role of Ronette usually played by Jenna Daley

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