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South East
posted/updated: 30 Sep 2011 -
Little Shop of Horrors
Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman
society/company: Simply Theatre (directory)
performance date: 24 Sep 2011
venue: Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Woking
reviewer/s: Adele Deakins (Sardines review)

Directed by Alison Hough, with Musical Direction by Harriet Oughton, Simply Theatre’s production featured Sean Lyttle as Seymour, Emma Hough as Audrey, Craig Morgan as Audrey 2, John Sherringham as Orin Scrivello and Martin Gardner as Mushnik.
The 230-seat Rhoda McGaw Theatre is a community performance space jointly managed by Woking Borough Council and The Ambassadors Group, Woking in association with Woking Drama Association.

Just in case you’ve been living in a cave for the last thirty years, Little Shop of Horrors is about a flower shop situated in Skid Row. Business is slow until Seymour Krelborn (Sean Lyttle) is given a plant by a Chinese Lady (Helen Bracher) which, despite his nurturing just doesn’t grow – that is until he cuts his finger and a drop of blood falls into the plant. Mayhem ensues... gigantic growth spurts and an insatiable hunger for blood and flesh.

Seymour secretly loves Audrey (Emma Hough) who is being treated badly by her boyfriend Orin Scrivello (John Sherringham) so, naturally, Seymour feeds the scumbag to ‘Audrey II’ (the plant, Craig Morgan). And so the story progresses with Seymour gaining fame as the shop prospers.

This was a very an enjoyable version by SimplyTheatre, with a good strong set which was often moved around, quietly and effectively. Emma Hough’s vocal delivery was excellent as was Sean Lyttle’s, and a special mention should be made for John Sherringham’s wonderful dentist scene which was sung and acted out with hilarity whilst dealing with his patient (Mike Woods) - who talked non-stop even when having his mouth stuffed with cotton wool. And of course Craig Morgan’s voice of Audrey II which climaxed with the magnificent finale song which he really made ‘rock’.

Not many gripes to dwell on: Martin Gardner (Mr Mushnik) played his part well, so it was unfortunate he was a little shaky on his lines; and the ensemble actors with smaller roles all did a sterling job but at times the dancing tended to lack that extra energy, enthusiasm and vitality - maybe the simple choreography did not give them enough to really ‘go for’. It was not until the very final piece when Craig Morgan came on and sang that I started to jiggle in my seat and really enjoy the music. The band, hidden from view behind scenery, was also very good with a special mention for their saxophonist. The whole cast were wearing microphones which if the balance is correct, obviously helps but as so often happens this was not the case and so the dialogue and some of the words in the songs were distorted.

The scenery was very good with the changes being simple and slick and the lighting was imaginative but, as mentioned, the sound left something to be desired and was arguably a touch too loud for the size of the theatre and audience.

However, I don’t want my ‘Sardines brief’ directing me to be impartial and honest to make you think this was not a good production, because it was! So well done to all involved in a colourful and entertaining show which I thoroughly enjoyed.

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