ATKINSON - “Little Shop of Horrors,” now on tap at Fireside Dinner Theatre
in Fort Atkinson, made its debut in 1960 as a cult movie, and in 1982 opened
Off-Broadway to become a big hit.
has subsequently been performed at professional, community and high school
theaters across the country.
is difficult to characterize this show. It is hard to figure out just what the
writers had in mind. Is it a satire on the typical American musical, a campy
version of the down-and-out anti-hero, a dark fantasy, a diatribe against the
price one pays for greed? It’s anyone’s guess, but its mystery does not in
any way diminish its enjoyment. The story, the music, the unusual plant, the
characters - all hold us entranced.
setting is a flower shop in the heart of skid row. Mr. Mushnik’s floral
business is in a slump due to its location. Seymour and Audrey are two of his
hapless employees. Seymour is a lovable nerd who likes to experiment with
plants. He is also secretly in love with Audrey, who is a beautiful blond ditz
and who prefers the company of an abusive, sadistic dentist.
life-changing event for all the characters occurs when, quite by accident,
Seymour creates a strange version of the fly-trap, which he names Audrey II as a
tribute to his secret love. He soon discovers that the plant needs human blood
to prosper. He also learns of its domineering ways, its gigantic size and its
insatiable demands. But on the bright side, the plant soon becomes a curiosity
item and brings a boom in business to Mr. Mushnik and fame and fortune to
follow Seymour’s change in status with a prurient fascination. A trio of
singers, who almost function as a Greek chorus, is used throughout the story to
emphasize the drama and warn us of what might be in store for the characters.
Chiffon, Crystal and Ronnette, played by Roslyn Seale, Janelle Neal and Robyn
DeGuzman, respectively, are an important presence and contribute consistent
White is Audrey II’s voice, and Yoav Levine is the puppeteer who provides her
movements. Both are effective. The prop itself is quite compelling, and they
moved her around enough so as not to block sight lines in the
theater-in-the-round space. Set design in a theater of this makeup can be a
challenge. Give Rick Rasmussen credit for this one.
four main characters are all excellent. I shall mention Ryan Knowles first
because he effectively played multiple characters with skill and credibility. In
his main role as the sadistic dentist, he was especially good at evincing our
disgust. Mr. Mushnik, played by Bob Amaral, had that hangdog look about him, and
only came alive when his own personal interest took a turn for the better. He is
the second least lovable character.
two main leads - Seymour (Justin Brill) and Audrey (Selah Grace) are very
well-cast. We wanted Seymour to get the beautiful girl, we understood his
quandary and even though we didn’t always agree with his decisions, we still
were on his side.
the poor misguided woman (and there are many of them just like her) evokes our
sympathies, as well. Their rendition of “Suddenly Seymour” and “Somewhere
That’s Green” are the best tunes in the show. The telephone scene when
business is booming is also very well-done. Their timing is perfect.
the show is entertaining, and though it is not to be taken too seriously, it
does point up how easily things can get out of control, and how something that
seems harmless at first can destroy us.
by Ed Flesch with musical direction by Mary Ehlinger, “Little Shop of
Horrors” runs through July 14 at the Fireside Dinner Theatre, 1131 Janesville
Ave., Fort Atkinson. For show times and tickets, call 800-477-9505 or visit www.firesidetheatre.com.