It’s supper time! Yes, the maneater Audrey II is back, and just as ravenous, in a new production of Ashman and Menken’s cult comedy musical, Little Shop of Horrors which is now touring the UK.
The show, which the press saw at the New Wimbledon Theatre this week, reprises the kitsch of previous shows, with New York’s Skid Row and its characters never looking so colourful.
Based on the vintage Roger Corman B-movie, which featured a very young-looking Jack Nicholson, Little Shop of Horrors never takes itself seriously – hell, how could it when the star is an outsized Venus fly trap with a penchant for blood?
The big name hired to put bums on seats during the tour is the larger-than-life Rhydian who showed on X Factor that he is game for anything.
Whatever you may think of this peroxide-blond eccentric, this outstanding baritone wins more fans with each performance, so it’s disappointing that he plays such a small part in the show.
A producer needs to come up with a starring vehicle for this hottest of musical theatre stars.
In Little Shop Rhydian plays Orin, a sadistic dentist, dressed in leathers and sporting a fetching DA, who has an addiction to sniffing nitrous oxide (his part ought to come with a warning for kiddies “not to try this at home”) and beating up his dim but lovely girlfriend, Audrey.
Needless to say he gets his comeuppance in this this eco-horror musical. This is a show that has more black credentials than green with heroes and villains, young lovers and grey-haired old men, falling prey to the strange and mysterious plant called Audrey II.
Director Tara Louis Wilkinson does her best by utilising the singer’s skills in a series of blink-and-you’ll-miss-them wacky cameos but you soon miss his off-the-wall personality.
For the uninitiated, Little Shop is set in a florists operating in the unlikely setting of Skid Row. Hapless, green-fingered, shop assistant, Seymour (played with just the right amount of gaucheness and naivety by Sam Lupton) has the hots for fellow worker, blonde bombshell Audrey, but she is in an abusive relationship with Orin.
Seymour and his boss, Mr Mushnik (Paul Kissaun) are horrified as the sweet, innocent, leopard-print loving Audrey (played by the equally lovely and charming Stephanie Clift) comes into work sporting black eyes and bruises.
One day Seymour finds a small and unusual plant. He nurtures it and hopes that its quirky appearance will bring in customers.
But he soon learns just how demanding this potted plant is when, it turns out, that the only thing that keeps it alive is a constant supply of blood.
I must say I was disappointed with Audrey II despite the best efforts of puppeteer Josh Wilmott. At full height it resembles a spineless, spotty, puffer fish with its little leaves looking like fins. It doesn’t look big enough or scary enough.
This Mean Green Mother from Outta Space is voiced by Neil Nicholas, who isn’t given a biography in the show programme, but he has a couple of standout numbers – Suppertime and Git It.
The musical numbers are kooky and lively with Chiffon, Crystal and Ronette (Vanessa Fisher, Sasha Latoya and Cassie Clare respectively) – doing a lively street girl impression of The Supremes.
Little Shop of Horrors is fun, poignant, wickedly black and delightfully daft. You can’t ask for more.
2016 Tour Dates
August 30-September 4, BELFAST OPERA HOUSE
September 6-10, WOKING New Victoria Theatre
September 13-17, AYLESBURY Waterside Theatre
September 20-24, LICHFIELD Garrick Theatre
September 27-October 1, BIRMINGHAM Alexandra Theatre
October 3-8, CARDIFF New Theatre
October 11-15, BRIDLINGTON Spa
October 17-22, CHELTENHAM Everyman Theatre
October 26-29, COVENTRY Belgrade Theatre
October 31-November 5, MANCHESTER Palace Theatre
November 7-12, SHEFFIELD Lyceum
November 14-19, GLASGOW King’s Theatre
November 22-26, BLACKPOOL Grand Theatre.
Little Shop of Horrors
Cult musical Little Shop of Horrors is kooky, quirky and a lot of fun but wastes the talents of its undoubted star, the leader of the plaque, Rhydian as sadistic dentist Orin.