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Rugby Theatre review: Little Shop of Horrors

Little Shop of Horrors, Rugby Theatre, to June 15. This comedy-musical which became one of the films of the 80s, returns to the stage for this production packed with energy. Weedy Seymour works in a failing florist shop on Skid Row, lusting after his workmate Audrey, whose low self-esteem leaves her trapped with her sadistic dentist boyfriend Orin (Tim Sell plays the dentist as an Elvis-eque freak and shows impressive quick-change skills to play a host of characters in the second act). Shop boss Mushnik is despairing until Seymour shows him a plant he has cultivated which draws in the customers. Unfortunately by the time Seymour discovers its need for blood, it’s almost too late. Seymour is well played by Sam Henshaw as the needy nerd who becomes fatally drawn to his new life of fame and fortune, and the possibility that it may bring him Audrey, played by Louise Woodward with an impressive voice and suitably delicate look, who dreams of a life in the suburbs. The story is swept along by the chorus of street urchins (Nelle Cross, Chloe McDonald and Hanna Morgan-Brown), whose bright and upbeat Motown-type singing balances the plot's dark themes of greed and morality. The performers nimbly dance around the tight stage set involving two sets of stairs and a revolving florist shop/graffiti covered street scene, plus the ever-growing plant Audrey II, an impressive creation voiced by Wil Neale and manipulated by Roy Healey, who emerged for the curtain call looking suitably worn out. The band was impressive, but despite the strong voices on stage the music dominated at times and it was hard to hear the lyrics or some spoken words. Despite this, it’s an impressive couple of hours of singing, dancing, and threatening greenery.

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