Little Shop of Horrors Review
The lights come up on the rock orchestra located a tad upstage left who energetically launch into the opening number, “Little Shop of Horrors.” Lights fade out on the musicians and the lights come up on a flat that is made to look like a brick wall with the words “Little Shop of Horrors” painted on it in a dotted, comic book-like style. In front of the wall, a trio of girls, Ronette, Chiffon, and Crystal, who double as characters and narrators throughout the musical, sing and dance to the titular song. During the number, the set opens up to reveal a shop interior, and the girls climb up a ladder to a spot above the main set area. The story of Little Shop of Horrors begins.
Little Shop of Horrors focuses on an awkward boy named Seymour who works at a flower shop, owned by one Mr. Mushnik, in the rundown neighborhood of Skid Row. Seymour cares for his coworker Audrey, who does not think she deserves a nice guy and is in an abusive relationship with Skid Row’s resident giggling, motorcycle-riding dentist, Orin Scrivello, DDS. The play begins with Mushnik thinking he has to close up shop. Seymour and Audrey plead with him to consider a new advertising strategy instead. Seymour has been working on a mysterious new plant that he calls the Audrey II, and he suggests that it be put in the window to attract customers. Mushnik is skeptical until the plant magically brings in a new customer within seconds after being placed in the window; the Audrey II launches Seymour and the little flower shop into local fame. However, throughout the play, Seymour finds himself in a bit of a moral (and anemic) dilemma when the plant appears to only thrive when fed fresh human blood.
The talent in this show is phenomenal. When Sofie Koloc, who plays Audrey, belts “Suddenly Seymour,” the entire audience is blown away by the power, control, and beauty of her voice. Richie Dupkin plays the nervous outsider Seymour and brings the tragic yet heart-warming character to life through great vocals and body language that seem to constantly quiver with meekness. Both Andrew Salzano, who plays Mushnik, and Justin Chesney, who plays Orin Scrivello, DDS, give hilarious and spot-on performances, especially in the numbers “Dentist!” and “Mushnik and Son.” The trio played by Caroline McFee, Tatiana Montes, and Dana Mastrull are phenomenal in terms of their characterizations, dancing, and singing when together and apart, making their every moment on stage a pleasure to behold. In every scene, no matter what characters they are portraying, the cast delivers a stunning performance.
The entire cast is amazing; however, the plant otherwise known as Audrey II steals the show. It is magic to watch the bright, colorful, and vicious plant come alive through movement and speech. The puppetry conducted by Lisa Delia, Lyndsay Crescenti, and Roseanna Zerambo lines up perfectly with the marvelously villainous voice created by Mason Sansonia. When there are certain important connotations to the plant’s rich, deep, and sinister voice, Audrey II’s underlying feelings and suggestions can be seen in the plant’s body language as plainly as an expression on a human face. Together, this hardworking team of puppetry and voice talent combines to bring the spectacle and horror of Audrey II to life.
The sets, props, ‘60s style costumes, and lighting are highly stylized, and touches of color and wealth appear systematically throughout as things become better for the main characters. According to set designer Roni Sipp at symposium for Little Shop of Horrors, the set is designed to look like it came out of a comic book world, and this aesthetic comes across truly making the experience even more surreal. The props blend seamlessly into this comic book world of the ‘60s, and the lighting emphasizes the different colors of the set along with giving sufficient luminance and ideas about the scene’s mood. Together, these elements create an atmosphere where a mysterious blood-sucking plant and maniac dentist could plausibly exist.
The live music is amazing to hear and feel; however, it does suffer from a bit of an audibility problem. The number “Feed Me,” in which the cast does a great job, loses some of its meaning because the lyrics are occasionally lost beneath the music. For the most part though, the music is rockin’ and clearly adds to the success and sound quality of the show.
In terms of the other technical elements, Jack Saleeby did a phenomenal job with the choreography, and the cast makes the dance moves feel as natural and right as they should in a musical. The run crew and stage managers make transitions run smoothly, and the followspot operator keeps up with the fast pace well. This is definitely a show that everyone can be proud of.
Overall, the show is well done and worth seeing. The students and faculty clearly worked hard to bring this show to the spectacular place it is right now, and it can be seen in every fake brick, in every amazingly quick costume change, in every line, and in every note.
Hofstra's Little Shop of Horrors will run from October 21 through 30 in the John Cranford Adams Playhouse. Show times are: Friday, October 21 and 28, at 8 p.m. Saturday, October 22 and 29, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, October 23 and 30, at 2 p.m.