The Little Shop of Horrors by Howard Ashman and Alan Mankin
Performed during 1999
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Reviewed by Peter Steptoe for The Croydon Advertiser
Simple story that is somehow.. well, er all-consuming
I find this musical morality story extremely satisfying. I don't know why exactly, but it has a charming simplicity that, like Audrey II, is all-consuming.
It consists of a florist's shop on Skid Row run by an unsuccessful Jewish entrepreneur, assisted by a male orphan Annie and a voice-a-like Judy Holliday, who goes out with a bike-riding, pain-inflicting dentist, who beats her up regularly.
Where does Audrey II fit in? She is an alien plant that grows ever bigger on an exclusive diet of human body parts.
Theatre Workshop Coulsdon made a competent and well-rehearsed attempt even if they did give it a happy ending.
Neat chorus singing from Crystal, Ronnette, Chiffon, Ruby, Sapphire and Diamond, played by Kimberley Argles, Heidi Bush, Lisa Lloyd, Natalie Ring, Tanya Allison and Tina Poole, advanced the plot and helped with the atmosphere.
The orphan Seymour, discoverer of the plant, was trustingly played by Matthew Marsh, who exhibited clearly his feelings for Audrey of the affected tonsils, whose deft comic touch and appealing looks were well-illustrated by Claire Andreadis.
Neil Grew as Orin the dentist displayed a mastery of sado-masochism before succumbing to an overdose of nitrous oxide. Feeding him to the plant caused an enormous increase in its size, but then dentists are always filling.
Tim Young as Mushnik the florist played him as if he had been barmitzvahed at birth and when fed to the plant by Seymour. One was sorry to see him go.
The book and lyrics by Howard Ashman are neat and nimble, and the music by Alan Mankin is foot-tapping.
The directors, Jonathan Wales and Daniel Ireson, demonstrated that they knew what this piece was about, and Mark Taylor on the keyboards commanded his small ensemble with assurance.
The smaller Audreys were made by Sheila Bird and the last and greatest was made by Mike Brown. The gasp of amazement from the audience when it was revealed must have been gratifying indeed.
Audrey II spoke and sang with the magnetic voice of Nigel Sorensen.
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