Is it just a coincidence that people are being eaten up on stage in Festival country this summer so we can enjoy delightful song and dance or could this signal the beginning of a vegan plot to convert the masses to stick with harmless greens and non-dairy products?
Case in point: The botanical digestive mishaps in Little Shop of Horrors which is bursting with magical 50s style doo-whops and B-Moviesque absurdity.
Adapted from the 1960 film by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken who went on to serve up Little Mermaid, Beauty and The Beast and Aladdin, the musical takes place in a skid-row flower shop as Seymour‘s (Andre Morin) growing Venus Flytrap is attracting quite a bit of attention in the neighbourhood.
He names the plant Audrey II in love-struck honour of work mate Audrey (Gabi Epstein). But this Flytrap has an appetite far bigger than what a few insects can suffice and when Seymour is runs out of liquid snacks, he begins looking for alternate sources of food to keep Audrey II bringing in the customers.
A dark comedy like this with big laughs throughout the show is totally irresistible. Yet it’s seeded themes of making the right choices in light of personal gain has its poignant touches.
There’s no better musical director for this kind of theatre fluff than Donna Feore whose gift for comedy is deep rooted by a natural sensibility for slapstick. She cranks up the pace when the text feels weighty and abruptly hits the brakes when he detects a beautiful moment.
Which is why she’d have little trouble deciding which leads to harvest this memorable musical. The rascal agility of the exquisitely animated Andre Morin blends in nicely with Gabi Epstein’s semi-clueless bombshell persona with both artists making this such a memorable musical garden.
Completing the trinity of talent, of course, is the ceaselessly entertaining Dan Chameroy as the bruising biker and dental sadist, Orin. It’s Chameroy’s unique character signature that gives the play the true flavour it needs.
Little Shop of Horrors is the the ideal way to celebrate the season and it’s colourful, clever and laugh-out-loud appeal requires no story pruning whatsoever.
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS based on the film by Roger Corman and screenplay by Charles Griffith with book and lyrics Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken STRATFORD FESTIVAL – AVON THEATRE, Stratford, Ontario DATES April 29 – November 2, 2019 TICKETS $25.00 – $195.00 www.stratfordfestival.ca 1-800-567-1600 CAST Andre Morin, Gabi Epstein, Steve Ross, Dan Chameroy, Starr Dominique, Camille Eanga-Selenge, Matthew G. Brown, Jason Sermonia, Henry Firmston, Evangelia Kambites, Jordan Mah, Jason Sermonia, Scott Beaudin, Marcus Nance, Blythe Wilson and Antonette Rudder DIRECTOR Donna Feore MUSIC DIRECTOR Laura Burton SET Michael Gianfrancesco COSTUMES Dana Osborne LIGHTING Michael Walton PROJECTION DESIGN Jamie Nesbitt SOUND DESIGN Peter McBoyle VOCAL ARRANGEMENTS Robert Billig STAGE MANAGER Michael Hart