Little Shop of Horrors
Music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman
performance date: 20 May 2014
venue: Network Theatre, 246A Lower Road, (under the arches), Waterloo, London SE1 8SE
reviewer/s: Susan Elkin (Sardines review)
Little Shop of Horrors has everything. The songs are great and Alan Menken’s score glitters with quality. The book and lyrics (Howard Ashman) are very witty: witness the rhyming of 'petunia' with 'junior' or 'Seymour' with 'be more' for example. The whole concept is full of gentle humour and although the story is deliciously quirky there’s engaging depth to the characters. You really couldn’t ask for more. No wonder this outrageous tale about a man eating plant in the florists’ shop on Skid Row is so perennially popular.
And this very creditable, lively and enjoyable take on it, directed by James Foster, does it lots of justice. Set on two thirds of the stage at the Network Theatre (tucked away in the bowels of Waterloo station) it also makes imaginative use of the space in front of the curtain. The five-piece band expertly led by Sophie Wright occupies the remaining stage left space. Somebody – props or set design? – has made a splendid job of creating an increasingly bigger Audrey 2, the ever larger hungrier plant which has a huge maw and Jaws-style teeth.
Most of the acting and singing is pretty competent with several outstanding performances. Helen Kelly as the vulnerable battered Audrey teetering about on a silly platform shoes is a highly professional performer with a very sweet, tuneful and immaculately controlled singing voice. Mark Siddall’s lanky, geeky Seymour is very watchable too and he sings some effective duets with Kelly. Richard Gambles gets plenty of colour into the querulous Mushnik and there’s well choreographed (by Nichola Welch) and vibrantly sung ensemble work from the company. The three-person female chorus trio – with its debt to the three little maids from The Mikado and the three ladies from The Magic Flute – is always an asset in this show and Siobahn Aarons as Chiffon shines particularly here because she’s such an engaging dancer and actor.
This is the first Geoids Musical Theatre show that I’ve seen and they really provided me, and the rest of the full house, with a very pleasant ‘two hours traffic of our stage’.