Little Shop of Horrors Review
Roslyn Packer Theatre, Sydney
by Alyssa Casey
After a sell out season at Hayes Theatre Co earlier this year, Little Shop of Horrors is back in Sydney for a brief engagement at the Rosyln Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay.
Produced by Luckiest Productions and Tinderbox Productions, Little Shop of Horrors is based on Roger Corman’s 1960’s movie of the same name. With a book and score by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, Little Shop of Horrors is the longest running Off Broadway musical. Audiences delight in Little Shop of Horrors’ witty black comedy, endearing characters and upbeat 1960s Doo-Wop, all of which have been expertly capitalised on by this first-class production team and Australian cast.
When a total eclipse of the sun delivers an alien plant – the Audrey II – to down-and-out florist-assistant Seymour (played by Brent Hill) it appears as if this potted protagonist may be Seymour’s ticket to fame, fortune and the woman of his dreams. That is until it develops an insatiable taste for human blood.
Throughout the show Audrey II, exquisitely designed by Erth Visual & Physical Inc, grows from an endearingly cute ‘strange and interesting plant’ into a bloodthirsty, manipulative mastermind with aspirations for world domination. The reptilian-like Audrey II is expertly brought to life by the company and evokes sympathy, wonderment and terror in equal amounts. Hill’s vocal animation of Audrey II is cheekily hidden with lighting and staging, however it is not entirely hidden, revealing Hill’s impressive ability to flip between Audrey II’s otherworldly Motown growl and loveable, mildly-mannered Seymour.
It is easy to see why Esther Hannaford is one of Australia’s most in-demand leading ladies. Hannaford is perfection as the simultaneously tragic and hilarious lead, Audrey. Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of the show is the eleven o’clock number, ‘Suddenly Seymour’ during which the audience held its breath in anticipation and then erupted with raucous applause at Hannaford and Hill’s soulful rendition.
Director Dean Bryant has perfectly pruned this small yet formidable cast. Angelique Cassimatis, Josie Lane and Chloe Zuel are superb as the Skid Row urchins. A dynamic trio who stand up against any larger ensemble with their powerful and high energy performance.
Owen Phillips’ delightfully off-kilter and kitchy set design and Tim Chappel’s camp couture costuming pair together to create a visually exciting and edgy Skid Row.
This finely cultivated production is well deserving of the critical and audience acclaim it has received. While the vocals at times were slightly over-exuberant and the lyrics occasionally unclear this is a small thorn in an otherwise faultless show.
Little Shop of Horrors is a colourful bouquet of impeccable comedic timing, heart wrenching tenderness and botanic buzz. Head on down to the Rosyln Packer Theatre to catch this vibrant production before it heads to Perth but remember – “Don’t feed the plant!”
Reviewed by Alyssa Casey