Little Shop of Horrors a well-paced production

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS

There is more than enough entertainment in this well-paced production. A classic tale of selling one's soul to the "devil" comes with a down-and-out B-grade sci-fi twist in this unconventional and comic off-Broadway musical.

Set in the early, overly optimistic, 1960s, nerdy orphan Seymour Krelborn works in Mushnik's rundown Skid Row flower shop alongside the deliciously ditsy Audrey. Seymour is of course hopelessly in love with her, but lacks any wherewithal to even contemplate asking her out or competing with her abusive, sadistic and nitrous oxide-sucking dentist boyfriend. Then, into his possession comes a small mysterious venus flytrap-like pot-plant he names Audrey II, and things begin to change.

As the unusual plant grows ever larger, Seymour also flourishes as the world beyond Skid Row falls over itself in an effort to cash in on his potted spectacle. Of course, there will be a price to pay, and the catch-cry of "feed me, Seymour" has increasingly bloodthirsty implications.

Key to the production's success is the highly capable cast who invest their roles with terrific characterisations and spot-on comic timing. As Audrey, Jessie Feyen's accent, posing, singing and phrasing is superb, playing against Tyrell Beck's suitably drab, woebegone and conflicted Seymour.

For Orin Scrivello, Audrey's leather-clad motorbike-riding nightmare of a boyfriend, Damian Thorne channels his inner maniacal Jim Carrey to great expressive effect, as well as appearing in an ongoing procession of cameo characters from Skid Row and the media world. Don MacBeth as Mushnik is a revelation, complete with impeccable presence, presentation and Eastern European accent.

Playing the vigorously growing and increasingly vocal and voracious Audrey II, puppeteer Jacob McDonald co-ordinates cohesively with its ghetto-vibe voice played by Nate Davis. It's a tone that Davis could afford to develop further.

There's nifty vocal continuity provided by the onstage chorus of commentating street urchins Crystal, Ronette and Chiffon, played by Cat Koloto, Sarah Donnelly and Jody Marshall.

Combined with Samantha Peters' lighting, Blair Macbeth's choreography and with backing track accompaniment, the whole package makes for an odd-ball but fun night out.

The only really disappointing feature was Orin's motorcycle, but maybe that was a deliberate attempt at anticlimax. It worked.

(Richard Mays)

Abbey Musical Theatre Administration and Box Office

The Wallace Development Company Theatre

Centennial Drive, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Phone (06) 355 0499

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