Seymour Krelborn has one dream: to get out of Skid Row. One day fate seems to offer him a shot at that dream when he buys a strange, exotic plant which he exhibits in the window of the florist shop where he works. Suddenly Seymour has fame, money, and the girl. And all it took was a little blood. Find out the rest of Seymour’s story in Little Shop of Horrors by Howard Ashman with music and lyrics by Alan Menken. It is currently playing at Bellevue Little Theatre.
Ashman’s script is a bit of genius. He took a cult horror film and managed to turn it into a hit musical due largely to his tongue in cheek approach to the material and the snappy score of Alan Menken. The tongue in cheek approach was certainly the way to go as it helps disguise the fact that this is a pretty bleak tale. Nearly all of the characters are unlikable and it does not have a happy arc. In spite of that, you can’t help but have a great time due to the comedy and memorable songs.
D Laureen Pickle’s direction is a strong bit of work as she has led her cast to some fine characterizations and knows how to balance the serious moments with the over the top moments.
The cast was quite clearly enjoying themselves which really adds to the fun of the show. Some notable supporting performances were supplied by Carrie Beth Stickrod, Samantha Shatley, and Brenda Smrdel as a trio of chiseling Skid Row do woppers who also serve as the play’s musical narrators; James Verderamo as a sadistic dentist; and Christopher Scott as Mr. Mushnik, the greedy and abrasive owner of the florist shop.
When I envision Seymour Krelborn, Kyle Avery is the image that springs to mind. Avery was a pitch perfect Seymour as his lean and lanky physique were well suited to the nebbish Seymour. Rest assured that Avery’s acting and singing chops were also more than up to the challenge of the role. Adopting an adenoidal, Brooklyn tinged voice, Avery well presented Seymour as a shy, nerdy man who merely wants a few nice things out of life, but whose innocence leave him susceptible to manipulation by others. Avery gives Seymour an inherent decency that makes his struggles with his conscience quite believable when he starts to go down a darker path due to the machinations of his plant, Audrey II.
Avery possesses a strong and sweet tenor voice that he modulates well emotionally with heartbreaking numbers such as “Skid Row” and “Suddenly, Seymour”.
Jen Dillon is delightful as Audrey. Ms Dillon utilizes a breathy, Brooklyn voice to communicate the uneducated nature of Audrey, but, boy, does she have a heart of gold. She is a really nice girl who just happened to be born on the wrong side of the tracks and you really pity her as she seems resigned to being poor and being involved with rotten men. She also has a lovely soprano with which she can either belt out a tune such as her sequences in “Skid Row” or melt your heart like butter in “Somewhere That’s Green”.
Andrew Miner gives an incredibly animated performance as Audrey II. What makes it even more amazing is that it’s all done by the power of his voice as Audrey II is nothing more than a series of puppets (kudos to the puppet designer by the way). Miner gives Audrey II a delicious aura of evil and a malicious mean streak. His powerful upper baritone singing voice also aid in communicating Audrey II’s nastiness with tunes such as “Feed Me (Git It)” and “Suppertime”.
D Laureen Pickle’s set design really looks like a skid row with its dilapidated, abandoned buildings and garbage strewn streets. Lindsey Pape has designed a series of pluperfect costumes from Seymour’s nerdy outfit of baseball cap, sweater, and glasses to the disheveled clothes of the Skid Row inhabitants to the do wop outfits of the Skid Row trio. Chris Ebke and his band provided a wonderful afternoon’s entertainment performing the catchy tunes. I also want to note the puppetry of Brian Henning which made Audrey II seem like a living entity.
Energy seemed to lag a bit in today’s production and projection was all over the map. I also thought there was room to go a bit bigger in some of the show’s more over the top moments. But these are easily remedied items which will make a hot show scalding.
It may not be a happy tale, but, by golly, it’s a fun time. Take a visit to this shop. Just remember, don’t feed the plants.
Little Shop of Horrors plays at Bellevue Little Theatre through Oct 1. Showtimes are Fri-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets cost $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, and $10 for students. For tickets contact the theatre at 402-291-1554 Mon-Sat from 10am to 3pm. Bellevue Little Theatre is located at 203 W Mission Ave in Bellevue, NE.