This coproduction from Bite My Thumb, Gravitas Entertainment and Cuting Edge Theatre is an ambitious piece, taking on a particularly difficult musical. Little Shop of Horrors needs to be fun, it needs to be fierce and it needs to have an undercurrent of sadness running throughout it. It needs to leave the audience bopping along, before really thinking about whether we’re all just living our lives on Skid Row waiting for our luck to change. And this production aptly does the job.
The musical follows the hapless Seymour as he discovers a strange and interesting plant and turns Mushnik’s dingy and down-and-out flower shop into an overnight sensation. Seymour finds fame, fortune and love with the glamorous but equally hopeless Audrey. But when the plant needs feeding, Seymour discovers a dark secret. Can he kill to save his new-found fortune? The answer, obvs, is yes.
Ronan Pilkington is lovely as Seymour, giving the character enough depth so we really feel for him when he “has to” bump off a couple of characters. He holds the piece along with am-dram veteran Matt Stirk (Mushnik) and James Sidgwick (Audrey II) giving a fantastic performance as the ferociously sassy plant.
Vicki Holmes as Audrey gives a strong vocal performance. However, she leads with a vague smile on her face throughout which I suppose is meant to be endearing but comes across too vacant when it’s her only expression. Her sadistic dentist boyfriend, Orin, is played by Joe Hamilton. His performance doesn’t pull off either but for the life of me I can’t tell you why. It’s just not funny enough. That said, Hamilton is a cracking singer, as are each of the Ronnette’s.
The bleak set gradually turns into a colourful, popping flower display and the various Audrey II puppets are great. The set does a great job of bringing the audience into the world of Mushnik’s flower shop.
The band are awesome and it’s always a treat to hear such great live music, sung impeccably by the leading cast and ensemble. I’m not sure who’s responsible for the sound, whether it’s an issue with the company or the Carriageworks, but the mix wasn’t quite right which did sweep the whole show with glaze of amateur dramatics. Which is a shame given some of the leading cast members give a stellar performance.
The show runs from 16th – 19th October at Leeds Carriageworks Theatre.