REVIEW: Little Shop of Horrors

*Please note that all plant puns are 100% intentional

Before fame came goofy fun. Prior to reviving the Disney animated musical franchise with “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast,” composer Alan Menken and librettist Howard Ashman could be found working with a little lower Manhattan company called the WPA Theatre. It was there that they germinated something rather silly: a musical adaptation of “Little Shop of Horrors,” the extremely low-budget Roger Corman B-movie about a carnivorous plant that had become a cult classic via late-night TV and campus midnight screenings.

The Guthrie Theater’s summer production of “Little Shop of Horrors” leans into the campiness of this quirky musical. The show is a high-energy dark comedy set on 1960s Skid Row. But let’s talk about the vocal performances because they were nothing short of extraordinary.

1. Seymour (Main Character): The role of Seymour, portrayed by Will Roland, was remarkable. His voice carried both vulnerability and determination, capturing the essence of Seymour’s nebbishy, but sincere character. Whether belting out “Suddenly Seymour” or delicately singing “Grow for Me,” he gave the audience someone to root for.

2. Audrey (Seymour’s Love Interest): Audrey, played by China Brickey, stole hearts with her soulful rendition of “Somewhere That’s Green.” Her sweet, melancholic voice conveyed Audrey’s dreams and longing for a better life while battling her own low self-esteem. Watching the chemistry between Seymour and Audrey flourish, their voices entwined beautifully as danger lurked inside.

3. Orin Scrivello (The Dentist and others): The character of Orin, the sadistic dentist, is usually a scene-stealer. David Darrow delivered a devilishly delightful performance, nailing the dark humor and hitting every note in “Dentist!” with precision.

4. The Urchins (Crystal, Ronette, and Chiffon): These three powerhouse singers including Erica Durham, Gabrielle Dominique, and Vie Boheme, elevated the show with their luscious harmonies. Acting as standins in songs like “Skid Row (Downtown)” and “Suddenly Seymour (Reprise)” were charming and . Their presence and vocal prowess the entire production.

Botany fans will love how the designers updated Audrey II from the hybrid Venus flytrap of the original. The vocal performance of T. Mychael Rambo provided just the right balance of gravitas and hungry desperation.

Overall, the production of “Little Shop of Horrors” successfully transports the audience to the tiny skid row flower shop while maintaining the late-nite campiness and infectious fun that made this show a perennial favorite. The Guthrie has definitely cultivated something special!

The show runs through August 18, 2024. Click here for tickets.

photo by Dan Norman