Yesterday was a double whammy – Hallowe’en and the opening night of Little Shop of Horrors at the Palace Theatre. I have to confess to being biased before I start, because the Rick Moranis film version of this musical is one of my favourite things ever!
The Skid Row set captured the atmosphere of a run-down but community in 50s America, and the fabulous singers (Chiffon, Ronnette and Crystal) really moved the story along with their brilliant Motown-esque songs and dances. There were some amusing (if now, politically incorrect!) little nods to the time, including the tramps sleeping in the doorways and the smoking pregnant woman, who additionally dumps her newborn in the bin while she joins in with the dancing!
Stephanie Clift played a delightfully ditsy Audrey, managing to keep the fine balance between irritating and endearing. Sam Lupton, as Seymour, gave a very assured and endearing performance as the little man with the moral dilemma – torn between doing what’s right while trying to make a better life for himself. The underlying love between him and Audrey underpinned most of the action and gave a nice counterpoint to the less savoury antics taking place around the plant. Mr. Mushnik (Paul Kissaun) played a very traditionally Jewish store owner, with a gruff manner but a great big heart.
For me, though, there were undoubtedly two real stars of the show: Rhydian, as Orin the dentist, and the incredible Audrey II. Both had very hard acts to follow, in terms of the film, but they certainly exceeded expectation. Rhydian managed to make the unpleasantly sadistic character delightfully bonkers, and managed to steal all the scenes he was in, with his big voice and over-the-top characteristics. Audrey II, for her part, dominated the stage as she gradually grew to gigantic proportions and started to wheedle and manipulate the well-meaning Seymour, building up to a crescendo of the iconic, booming command: “Feed Me!”
This is a fabulous musical, full of fun and with wonderful singalong songs that will stay in your head long afterwards. I was slightly surprised by the ending, which was different to the one in the film and, whilst I wasn’t disappointed by this, as such, it did finish slightly more abruptly than anticipated. However, I started the night with a grin on my face and ended it with an even bigger one, because this is a great production and a fantastically entertaining night out. Go and see it while you can – the show runs until Saturday 5th November.