– by Elyse Simich
The cult classic, Little Shop of Horrors, opened at His Majesty’s Theatre on Friday night. A musical about a giant plant that plans to take over the world, it is delivered in a comedic, yet dark manner. With undertones of domestic violence, this production explores the fragility of humanity and our deepest, darkest desires.
The play opened with a black-and-white news broadcast projected onto a screen, as SBS’s Lee Lin Chin read about the havoc Audrey II had wreaked on Skid Row. The lighting flashes around the stage and the broadcast is overcome by static, as if the world is coming to an end.
Grey dominates the set, lighting, and costumes dominate of the first Act. A strange plant named Audrey II is the only colourful item on the stage – a sign of good things to come. As the curtain rises again for Act 2, the grey gives way to a burst of colour. The flowers in the flower shop are all bright, vibrant colours, the costumes are vivid, and the plant has grown enormous, its pulsating tendrils almost take up the entire set.
In an example of vocal acrobatics, Brent Hill creates the fervent boom of the carnivorous Audrey II. As the plant flourishes, its voice grows to encompass those it has devoured. This creates a cacophonous echo, signalling the characters’ inevitable doom as Audrey II spirals out of control.
This production plays homage to Roger Corman’s 1960 low budget black comedy through its basic set. Mr Mushnik’s flower shop is a permanent fixture. Almost like a shower curtain, audiovisual screens are drawn across the flower shop and a new set is projected onto it.
The performances by each cast member are top notch. Esther Hannaford belts out powerful, soaring ballads. Brent Hill plays Seymour so sweetly, as he nurtures the sickly Audrey II at the beginning of the show and desperately tries to rescue the real Audrey from her aggressive boyfriend – his occasional murderous behaviour is almost forgivable. Scott Johnson’s portrayal of the dentist is very tongue-in-cheek, from the provocative dance moves to his excessive consumption of laughing gas. Tyler Coppin’s Mr Mushnik is comically corrupt, with his greed leading to his untimely demise. Angelique Cassimatis, Josie Lane and Chloe Zuel create an enthusiastic and dynamic chorus.
From the catchy songs to the energetic performances given by every single cast member, this production captivated its audience. It plays at His Majesty’s Theatre until Sunday August 14.
Photo credits: courtesy of Jeff Busby