Book and Lyrics: Howard Ashman
Music: Alan Menken
Director: Tara Louis Wilkinson
Reviewer: Beth Steer
The Little Shop of Horrors, one of the longest running off-Broadway musicals of all time, makes its entertaining debut at Cardiff’s New Theatre this week.
Telling the story of Seymour Krelborn (Sam Lupton), an orphan taken in as the assistant at Mushnik’s Flower Shop in bedraggled Skid Row, The Little Shop of Horrors is a kooky cult classic; an adventure of botany, murder and romance.
When Seymour cultivates a strange and exotic plant from cuttings he purchased in Down Town’s fresh flower district, displaying it in the dilapidated shop window to entice some new customers, he doesn’t expect to become famous overnight, or for business to boom.
But, as the plant (named Audrey II, after Seymour’s colleague Audrey (Stephanie Clift), whom he’s secretly in love with) grows, so do its demands – and its voracious appetite.
Featuring all the hits from Alan Menken’s well known soundtrack, the performance is energetic and enthusiastic – full of fun, if not necessarily finesse.
The performers are all strong singers – with the trio of girls (Sasha Latoya, Vanessa Fisher, Cassie Clare) that bookend each number particularly standing out.
X-factor star and Welsh favourite, Rhydian Roberts, as Orin Scrivello, the sadistic dentist, also goes down particularly well with the Cardiff crowd. A particular vocal highlight is Roberts’ extraordinary ability to hold ridiculously long notes, and the duet of Suddenly Seymour (Clift and Lupton) is very well performed.
Unfortunately, the strong vocal performance is let down a little by the inconsistency with some of the acting. The accents are sloppy at times and generally inconclusive – switching from a New York drawl to an Irish burr in the space of one line – and the spoken one-liners fall a bit flat at times.
That being said, the creative shines through in this. The set is well designed and cleverly used, and the costume fun and light-hearted.
Audrey II, Seymour’s disastrous floral experiment (voiced by Neil Nicholas), is brought to life by the well-thought-out design, and great puppetry by Josh Wilmott that conveys more bad-tempered, foul-mouthed sass than you’d expect.
The audience takes the performance in the light-hearted spirit it is intended, and the score is clearly a firm favourite. It is an amusing show – if utterly bizarre to those not familiar with the Little Shop and the Horrors it holds.
Not a show-stopper, but an enjoyable evening out.
Runs until 8 October 2016 | Image: Matt Martin