Little Shop of Horrors

September 19, 2019

in Musicals

Musical (1982)
Book and Lyrics by Howard Ashman
Music by Alan Menken
Based on the film (1960) by Roger Corman
Screenplay by Charles Griffith

Directed and choreographed by Rachel Bertone
Music director: Dan Rodriguez

Lyric Stage Company of Boston
Copley Square area, Boston
August 30 – October 6, 2019

Scenic Design: Janie E. Howland; Costume Design: Marian Bertone; Puppet Design: Cameron McEachern

With Dan Prior (Seymour Kreiborn), Katrina Z. Pavao (Audrey), Remo Airaldi (Mr. Mushnik), Jeff Marcus (Orin and others), Pier Lamia Porter (Chiffon), Lovely Hoffman (Crystal), Carla Martinez (Ronnette), Yewande Odetoyinbo (Audrey II, voice), Tim Hoover (Audrey II, puppeteer)

Katrina Z. Pavao as Audrey, Dan Prior as Seymour in 'Little Shop of Horrors'

Katrina Z. Pavao as Audrey
Dan Prior as Seymour
in “Little Shop of Horrors”
Photo: Mark S. Howard
Courtesy of Lyric Stage Company of Boston

An exuberant and wonderfully staged revival of the show about a flower shop with a plant that eats humans.

To be sure, this is a delightfully trivial plot, but in the end it’s a moral tale of sorts.

Seymour (Dan Prior) works in Mr. Mushnik’s (Remo Airaldi) failing flower show on skid row. Audrey (Katrina Z. Pavao) works there as well, and though she’s involved with a sleazy dentist, Seymour holds a torch for her. Seymour somehow comes up with a plant that seems quite extraordinary, and its sheer uniqueness and increasing size draw scads of new customers. Without going into too many details, the plant needs humans – literally – to survive and Seymour is forced to make some difficult choices as the success of the shop, and his own fame, grow.

This show is so beautifully choreographed and staged by director-choreographer Rachel Bertone that it bolts out of the gate and doesn’t stop until it gets to the finish line.

It opens with a terrific trio by Pier Lamia Porter (Chiffon), Lovely Hoffman (Crystal) and Carla Martinez (Ronnette) who take it right from the start and make energy blossom. Throughout the show they are featured at all corners of the stage and in different getups and they are terrific. They are like The Supremes on a musical theater wonder drug.

Remo Airaldi (Mr. Mushnik) is also great. I’ve seen him in tons of shows but never really had a sense of him as a musical theater performer. He does a wonderful character impersonation here as the not-so-great store owner, and he also sings nicely and competently.

In multiple roles, first as the sleazy dentist-boyfriend of Audrey, Jeff Marcus does a wonderful job of being despicable, insistent and demanding, and then everything else that his multiple other roles demand. As the dentist, he truly is creepy, but when he shows up later in role after role he really grows on you.

As Audrey, Katrina Z. Pavao has a lovely robust innocence, a bit Dolly Parton-esque (also thanks to her hairdo), and she can really belt it out as well.

As Seymour, Dan Prior does a great job of being a nebbish, and it’s a little difficult to tell whether the somewhat thin voice he uses to sing is a function of his character portrayal or whether a big voice is just not his thing.

The lyrics by Howard Ashman are quite funny and ingenious, and the music by Alan Menken, though not Beethoven, keeps things bouncing along in a nice way. They have been great collaborators and this show is remarkably good even for a small, offbeat, macabre plot.

Special mention goes to Rachel Bertone’s choreography, which is wonderful and inventive throughout. And, as well, the music direction by Dan Rodriguez, particularly noticeable in some of the wonderful vocal harmonies and inventions, is exceptionally well done.

And, of course, the big green dinosaurlike puppet design by Cameron McEachern, the graceful puppeteering by Tim Hoover and the suggestively demanding puppet voice by Yewande Odetoyinbo were all creepily, but humourously, effective.

A very fun and weird show, one notes at the end how much of a fable and moral tale it is, which gives it a bit of heft as well as being a great entertainment.

– BADMan

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