Theatre review by Hannah Richardson
For a really fun musical, with catchy tunes, great singing, dark humour and some cracking performances, head to Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre and catch Little Shop of Horrors while it’s on tour there until Saturday night.
Little Shop of Horrors has been one of my all-time favourite musicals ever since I saw the orginal West End production when it arrived from Off-Broadway in 1983.
With music by Alan Menken, who went on to write music for many of the Disney animated films and shows including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Pocahontas, it’s not surprising that Little Shop of Horrors features superb songs in the style of early 1960s rock ’n’ roll, doo-wop and early Motown.
Little Shop of Horrors is based on a 1960 black comedy B movie which featured a young Jack Nicholson, and the musical version was made into a feature film in 1986.
Set for this production by director Tara Louis Wilkinson in 1950s New York, the musical tells the story of Seymour, a flower shop assistant in downtrodden Skid Row, who becomes an overnight sensation when he discovers a strange and exotic plant.
He names it Audrey II, in honour of his fellow shop assistant, the glamorous Audrey.
But Audrey II has a mind of its own, and soon grows into a bad-tempered, foul-mouthed carnivore with a taste for blood.
Seymour must keep the meals coming to stop his prized plant from wilting, but how far is he willing to go to get the girl of his dreams?
In this production, Stephanie Clift is an adorably sweet and slightly awkward Audrey.
With a lovely, pure tone to her voice as well as some powerful punch, she is able to do full justice to the songs made famous by the divine Ellen Greene in the original stage show and the 1986 film.
My only gripe is that, in her beautiful solo, Somewhere That’s Green, she was inclined to speak too many of the lyrics, instead of singing them, which for me is a waste of a superb tune. But it was still a top-notch performance.
Sam Lupton stole the show as the endearingly put-upon Seymour and his duet with Audrey, Suddenly Seymour, was both comic and very moving.
Paul Kissaun was excellent as Seymour’s employer, Mr Mushnik, and and the pair of them gave a superb comic turn in their duet, Mushnik & Son.
Acting as a kind of musical Greek chorus to the play’s unfolding events are the three street urchins, Chiffon, Crystal and Ronnette, played by Sasha Latoya, Vanessa Fisher and Cassie Clare, who belted out their brilliant chorus numbers with real flair, superb harmonies and great comic timing.
Former X Factor star Rydian tops the bill in the cameo role of sadistic dentist and Audrey’s no-good boyfriend, Orin.
However, on Tuesday’s press night, Rhydian was ill, and the part was performed by understudy Josh Wilmott.
The Waterside hoped that Rhydian would be back on stage later in the week.
Every member of the small cast worked their socks off to provide a really entertaining performance, but a review would not be complete without mentioning the great work of Neil Nicholas as the Voice of Audrey II and Phile Adele, who was puppeteer for the evil plant on the night.
Catch it if you can – before it catches you!
Box office 0844 871 7607 or visit www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury