Little Shop of Horrors is one of musical theatre’s most quirky, kitsch and camp offerings and returns to the stage in all its glory in this slick touring production. Made famous by Hollywood’s 1986 adaptation, starring Rick Moranis and Steve Martin, Little Shop of Horrors is something of a cult classic, and it’s not hard to see why.
A pastiche of schlocky horror B-movies, the story follows a nerdy florist who starts to turn his ailing shop around with the addition of a “strange and mysterious” plant – the Audrey II. The catch is that the plant just happens to be a flesh-eating, maniacal cultivation. With a dirty mouth. The florist, Seymour, is tasked to find increasingly bloody ways to satiate Audrey II’s insatiable hunger.
The score, from Disney stalwarts and Academy Award-winners Alan Menken and Howard Ashman (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast) is a pure joy, with soaring melodies that are implanted in your brain long after the curtain comes down. The title track, Skid Row, Suddenly Seymour and Somewhere That’s Green are belted out by the talented cast, with no weak link across the entire production.
Sam Lupton is pitch perfect as Seymour, combining frantic nerdiness with a killer vocal that carries the show. Stephanie Clift is fantastic as love interest Audrey, who would give feminists a heart attack, dreaming of “a washer and a dryer and an ironing machine”. Josh Wilmott gives the effectively animated plant some serious vocal chops.
The X Factor’s Rhydian Roberts is the star name here, given top billing in all of the publicity materials. Those expecting to see a lot of the Welsh warbler may be disappointed with Rhydian’s relatively small role as the sadistic Dentist, but what he lacks in stage time, he makes up for in showmanship, hilariously chewing the scenery at every available opportunity.
Special mention goes to the actresses playing Crystal, Chiffon and Ronette who provide the night’s most stunning vocals with tight harmonies and plenty of sass.
The direction cranks the production’s zaniness to the max and while the set doesn’t offer too many surprises, it fills the stage with enough garish greens and ‘50s stylings to be effective enough. The music could do with being beefed up a notch, occasionally sounding somewhat flat – but it’s a minor quibble.
With a collection of enduring songs, stellar performances and a ‘so bad it’s good’ sensibility, Little Shop of Horrors is a great production of a deserving cult classic.
Cast: Sam Lupton, Stephanie Clift, Rhydian Roberts, Paul Kissaun, Sasha Latoya, Vanessa Fisher, Cassie Clare, Josh Wilmott, Phil Adele, Stephanie McConville, Neil Nicholas Director: Tara Wilkinson Writer: Howard Ashman Theatre: Various (production reviewed at New Wimbledon Theatre) Duration: 135 mins Dates: August 4th – November 26th 2016