Gananoque, ON, Jul 31, 2012 — Little Shop of Horrors is running at the 1000 Islands Playhouse in Gananoque through September 1. Resident theatre critic Connie Meng was at the opening night and has this review.
The 1000 Islands Playhouse has a winner with their lively production of LITTLE SHOP IF HORRORS. Although I’ve seen the show a number of times, it was quite a while ago and I’d forgotten how clever and funny it is, especially Howard Ashman’s lyrics. Alan Menken’s tuneful soft-rock score fits beautifully with Mr. Ashman’s book and lyrics about a man-eating plant.
Robin Fisher’s adaptation of Jack Boschman’s original set has dilapidated brick walls of scrim that either become transparent or slide back to reveal Mushnik’s Skid Row florist shop. To the right and left are alleys with more brick building fronts and stoops. The changes to the shop in the Renovation number are fun, especially the floral print cash register cover.
Miss Fisher’s costumes are good, in particular the trio’s wigs and Audrey’s teeter shoes. Adair Redish has done a fine job with the lighting and obviously had fun with some nifty special effects such as that for the apotheosis of Audrey.
Musical director Sandy Thorburn has put together a good combo with himself on keyboards, Paul Barton on guitar, Dave Barton on bass and the excellent Greg Runions on drums. I only wish they weren’t hidden behind the set. Mr. Thorburn has also done his usual fine job with the singers. The group numbers “Skid Row” and the Finale as well as the girls’ trio all sound great.
Speaking of the trio of ragamuffins, Brittney Martin, Antonette Rudder and Ramona Gilmour-Darling, who also choreographed, are all good singers and their blend is excellent. Their movement is pretty spiffy too, especially the calypso number.
There are two mostly unseen characters that are essential. First Alex Oliver, the puppeteer responsible for manipulating Audrey II in its various stages of growth, not an easy job. Second is Director Greg Wanless, who voices the plant in both dialogue and song. Who knew Artistic Director Wanless could play a be-bopping basso? His two songs, “Feed Me” and “Suppertime” are terrific.
Jonathan Purvis is very good as Seymour, the shy florist clerk and budding botanist secretly in love with Audrey, well-played by Kristin Galer. She has a powerful voice and does a beautiful job with “Somewhere That’s Green.” They’re very good together both musically and emotionally on “Suddenly Seymour.”
As Mushnik, the shop’s owner, David Talbot does an excellent job, making his character truly believable. He’s very funny on “Mushnik and Son” and nimbly handles Miss Gilmour-Darling’s fun choreography. Kyle Dad is outstanding as Orin, Audrey’s sadistic boyfriend. He’s hilarious in both his musical numbers and does a wonderful extended death scene. He also plays various “Others,” all well-done and appropriately silly.
Director Greg Wanless has done a nice job of staging and directing the show. His staging is very good and I love the three bums’ appearances and especially exits on “Skid Row.” On top of that, he’s managed to help his actors maintain a core of believability underneath the surface extremes.
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS has become one of those classic musicals that never seem dated. The music is good, the book and lyrics clever and it’s just plain fun entertainment, just right for a summer evening.
On a scale of one to five the 1000 Islands Playhouse production of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS gets four and two-thirds fish. For North Country Public Radio I’m Connie Meng.