From the moment Crystal, Chiffon and Ronnette walked on the stage singing Little Shop of Horrors, you knew you were in for a musical medley of horror, humor, love and a strange twist. Played wonderfully by Carin Lagerberg, Maggie Saunders and Madeline Glenn Thomas, the choral arrangements of these three middle school dropouts served as a beautiful musical narration of this oddly strange story of alien domination disguised as a unique flower.
Throughout the evening, the three sidewalk dwelling singers transformed from lost teenagers to beauty queens dancing on steps, the street, the shop and for a moment in the balcony. You were even delighted to see them peak through the window of the florist shop.
The stage was designed in thirds to create the perception of three simultaneous acts flowing in perfect symmetry throughout the performance. With the florist shop as the center of attention, the city backdrop, steps, garbage and hobo’s complimented and lent more detail to the area of the city deemed “skid row”.
Early in the production, when we are introduced to Audrey 2, you could not help but feel a sense of comfort as this Muppetsesque plant warms you as it bloomed and swayed in Seymour’s hands; a soothing feeling soon to be washed away as its grew and power reached new heights.
Kent Reynolds creates the role of Seymour, the dorky backroom florist with no direction in life, with precision and accuracy with his shy awkward demeanor, nerdy attire and misguided ambitions for fame and fortune. As you watched him on stage, you cannot help but sense he stepped right off the set of Leave it to Beaver. With his Beaver Cleaver hair, glasses and subtle innocence, he took on the role and made it his own.
George Younts, took on Mr. Mushnik, the down on his luck Skid Row florist owner who is one step away from closing the shop and giving up. His sense of greed and ambition and obliviousness created a character that channeled Zero Mostel from The Producers. As we will learn in Act II, greed truly led him to a dark place.
Katie Arthur as Audrey was charming. Her inner city accent, blond wavy hair, airy personality and pretty girl with low self-esteem image created a balance for the florist shop bringing a naive beauty to Seymour and Mr. Mushnik. Her inability to get out of an abusive relationship with Orin, the dentist, added a sub-plot that would feed into the main focus of the play, Audrey II.
Pen Chance, the chameleon of the troop took on five roles during this performance including both genders. His quirky personality was expressed well with each scene he performed in and it was clear he was having fun playing a series of side bar characters. A little nitric oxide inhalation as Orin helped bring humor to the role of the abusive dentist.
The center of the play was Audrey II, played remarkably by puppeteer and actor, Josh Harris and Nathan Burke. As a bluesy singing plant with a thirst for human blood and flesh, Audrey II was a showstopper. As he grew, his presence became more and more prominent. The audience became closer to the sinister plot and soon learned the true plan. With his playful harmonies, whiny calls for “feed me” and deviant behavior, Audrey II manifested a love/hate relationship with the audience.
In the end, you feel a sense of horror, relief, justice, uncertainty and just all around fun. With that combination, director Marybeth Clark and the entire collection of players, musicians and stage hands create a wonderful night at the theater.
Remember Charleston, if you take anything away from Dock Street’s performance, “Don’t Feed The Plants” and most importantly see this production.