Presented by Blackwood Players
Reviewed 27 May 2017
Little Shop of Horrors is a favourite of musical theatre fans around the world and it follows Seymour and his man-eating plant that gives him everything he could ever want, but at a terrible price. With Alan Menken’s toe-tapping score and Howard Ashman’s vibrant lyrics and characters, the right cast can make this show a sure-fire hit. Blackwood Players are the latest company to take on this production and, although it stutters at points, delivers a thoroughly enjoyable production.
With a small-cast show such as this getting the central characters right is key and first-time director, Georgie Bannard, has done a solid job. James Barbary as Seymour has a wonderful voice and fantastic nerdy characterisation. As the character develops and becomes more stressed his volume does increase making him difficult to understand but this doesn’t detract from the overall experience. As Seymour’s lover Audrey, Karina Black brings a soft earnestness to Audrey and showcases a lovely singing voice. The chemistry between Barbary and Black is convincing and builds well over the course of the show.
In the role of the grumpy flower shop owner Mr Mushnik, Chris Overton delivers in both the singing and the comedy stakes. His Mushnik is relatable and enjoyable throughout. Ron Densley displays great versatility in his many roles and copes well with the quick changes in The Meek Shall Inherit. Of particular note is his work as Orin Scrivello where he maintains a powerful stage presence and enjoys a brilliantly executed slap. Bannard, as well as directing, also serves as the voice for Audrey 2 handling the demanding role incredibly with ease and synchronising well with Georgina Lumb as the plant puppeteer.
Elle Nichelle, Tammy Shields and Lauren Bannard deliver the harmonies of the show’s Greek-chorus-styled narrators well. They are each blessed with powerful voices and do well in their solo lines but seem to struggle to fill the time when they are not singing. Black’s choreography is good but lacks the crispness that would have given these characters more of an edge.
The small ensemble features infrequently and serves more as crew throughout this production but their few short moments are enjoyable. Barbary’s set design is incredibly clever, utilises the stage space well and looks very appealing. Unfortunately its size – especially with the addition of the Act 2 plant – makes it unwieldy and set changes can be slow. As the run continues, this may become smoother.
As a first-time director, Bannard has done very well keeping the pace of show quick and characterisations clear. The first act rockets along and there is a nice balance onstage between movement and stillness. Unfortunately Act 2 is a little rockier with a more disorganised feel and this is a stark and unhappy contrast to the first half of the evening.
Carol Hollis and her band are, for the most part, strong and create an enjoyable sound. Some cues seemed off and using intro music of songs to cover set changes may have smoothed out the pace a little more but overall they serve Menken’s score well.
While this show does have flaws the cast and their energy make this an enjoyable way of spending an evening!
Reviewed by Nathan Quadrio
Venue: Blackwood Memorial Hall
Season: 26th May – 17th June
Duration: 2 hours
Tickets: $23 – $28
Bookings: Call 0481 373 949 or online at http://www.trybooking.com/PBWU