Andy Howells visits Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival to witness Everyman Theatre’s stage musical presentation of Little Shop of Horrors.
Ashamedly, I have never seen a presentation of Little Shop of Horrors prior to Everyman’s presentation at Cardiff Open-Air Theatre Festival.
Following the performance at Cardiff’s Bute Park on Friday evening, I can now say the show is probably among one of my favourite musicals combining the genres of 1950s B-movie science fiction, black comedy and 1960s influenced girl-group pop with spectacular casting directed by Richard Tunley and strong choreography by Rob Thorne Jr.
The story follows the progress of meek, floral assistant Seymour Krelborn who stumbles across a new breed of carnivorous plant which he names “Audrey II” after his co-worker crush. Seymour nurtures the foul-mouthed, Rhythm & Blues -singing plant into a media phenomenon – at a price! The plant develops a taste and hunger for human flesh and won’t stop until it gains world domination.
Dan Thomas gives a credible performance as nerdy underdog Seymour, who in his lowly position of floral assistant, is frequently put upon by his boss,the irascible Mushnik, played to great comic effect by Paul Williams.
As the plant grows, Seymour’s confidence is raised as he gains acceptance as a media celebrity and wins the girl of his dreams in Laura Richards’ Audrey. However, along with Seymour’s confidence comes desperation as the plant demands more food to devour. Thomas captures Seymour’s desperation with comical animated effect, when he confronts Audrey’s abusive dentist boyfriend, Orin played by Lewis Cook. The pair contribute to a wonderful black comedy scene around a dentist chair when Seymour loses the courage to shoot the bully and ends up in the dentist chair while Cook’s character spirals into full-on craziness. Indeed, Cook returns at later points in further comic roles and plays off brilliantly against Thomas.
Adopting a variety of costumes and roles from college dropouts to laboratory assistants are the resident girl group made up of Crystal, Ronnette and Chiffon played by Amy Coombes, Giaccolina Maria Crothers and Harriet Taylor who not only add much to the supporting narrative, but delight the audience with their choreography and 60s stylised vocal performances.
Laura Richards not only gives an endearing performance as Audrey, but also gives an incredible vocal rendition of Somewhere That’s Green and its difficult not to marvel at the deep baritone of Pedro Lloyd Gardiner as the voice of Audrey II particularly on the finale Don’t Feed The Plants.
Little Shop of Horrors is a joyous production which flows with energy, laughter, and strong ensemble performances. Staged in the open air environment of Bute Park until July 30, there’s no better place to go green with an alien plant that’s so mean!
Little Shop of Horrors has performances on 23rd & 25th – 30th at 8pm and July 23rd (BSL performance) & 30th at 3pm
- For ticket details visit Cardiff Open-Air Theatre Festival’s website.