It’s not easy to stage a musical. There are several ingredients which all need to be done well – most importantly the singing, acting and dancing! So, it was with some nervousness that I went to see Wimborne Musical Theatre’s production of Little Shop of Horrors – would they pull it off? I needn’t have worried – this was a very slick and entertaining production with some great performances.
The story is based on a 1960’s film, which was later turned into a spoof musical with its roots in the B movies of the 1950’s. A more well-known film version was made in 1986 starring Rick Moranis.
The protagonist is Seymour, played by Duncan Sayers, who discovers an unusual plant, which, because of its popularity, saves the run-down florist shop. The problem is that it feeds on human flesh and blood…The shop becomes extremely successful, and Seymour becomes a famous botanist, but there is more and more pressure on him to keep the increasingly large plant fed on its preferred diet.
The love interest is Seymour’s co-worker, the sweet, but vulnerable Audrey (Selina Rumbold) who initially suffers abuse from her sadistic boyfriend Orin (Lee Neal), but who gradually falls in love with Seymour.
The performances in this show were universally good, from the ‘Greek Chorus’ of Mikaela Buckby, Jemma Cable and Julie Sissons, who comment on the unfolding drama (largely through song and dance), to the over-the-top sadistic dentist Orin, right through to the large ensemble. However, special mention must be made of the two principals, Duncan Sayers and Selina Rumbold who are both very natural performers, giving us excellent characterisations. This allowed them to portray a very believable, poignant but ultimately doomed romance through both humour and pathos.
Great support was provided by Michael Leggett as the shop owner, Mr Mushnik, who like the whole cast had mastered the American accent very well, and Simon Langford as the chilling, demanding voice of the plant. Calum Hearne and Hilary Baker also did a great job as the puppeteers, rightly taking a bow at the end, and even the smaller parts were played convincingly by John Bounds, Pam Mizon, Peter Bache and KD Johnson. It was as if the musical had been written for this multi-talented cast, who had mastered all the skills that a musical demands.
It seems unkind to criticise this fabulous production, but I did struggle on a couple of occasions to hear the dialogue and lyrics -particularly at the top of the show and the end of Act 1, as the volume of the music was a problem. The actors could also have been better lit once or twice, especially in an important scene between Seymour and Audrey down stage centre in Act 2.
The set was very impressive, and clearly a lot of attention to detail had gone into this, along with the costumes and set dressing, to create the Skid Row location. Perhaps it almost looked too good, though, so maybe the inclusion of some rubbish by the dustbins and slightly scruffier looking locals etc could be considered. A small point, but it could help to immerse the audience further into the drama.
Congratulations to the Director Duncan Trew, the Musical Director Jonathan Spratt and the Choreographer Suzi De Villiers who, along with the cast, have created a production which would be hard to beat by the professionals. I would highly recommend this show for a ‘feel good’ night out, the audience loved it, and were left wanting more, so maybe a reprise after the curtain call could be included?
The Little Shop of Horrors runs until 9th April.