Thru April 22
Little Shop of Horrors is a horror comedy rock musical, by composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman, about a hapless florist shop worker who raises a plant that feeds on human blood and flesh. The musical is based on the low-budget 1960 black comedy film The Little Shop of Horrors. The music, composed by Menken in the style of early 1960s rock and roll, doo-wop and early Motown, includes several well-known tunes, including the title song, “Skid Row (Downtown)”, “Somewhere That’s Green”, and “Suddenly, Seymour”. The show made a star of Ellen Greene, who played the pivotal role of Audrey in both the U.S. and London productions.
If you are a theatre person, I find it hard to believe you haven’t heard about this musical. It was a huge hit Off-Broadway. 30 years ago, Chagrin Valley Little Theatre had the distinction of producing the first Ohio production. That is quite an accomplishment for this power house of a theatre nestled next to the Chagrin Falls. Director Greta Rothman has assembled a valiant crew of actors to celebrate this return to the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre stage.
Nate Summers as Seymour
This production could be easily re-titled Little Shop of Summers. Nate Summers is a delightful force of nature in this production. His acting is sublime, along with his comedic timing. His voice is strong and versatile, and he handles the score like a pro. I have never seen Summers perform before, but I will not make that mistake again. He is charming as hell, and has a fabulous stage presence. His performance alone is worth the trip to the theatre.
Nina Takacs as Audrey
Nina Takacs is a lot of fun to watch in this production. She flaunts her Rubenesque body in all the right places, makes terrific comedic choices, and has a divine voice which she uses to nail the signature song Somewhere That’s Green. The chemistry between Takacs and Summers is perfect and fun.
Michael A. Green as Mushnik
Michael A. Green is a hoot as Mushnik. He provides a lovable, grumpy, and entertaining character. He and Summers create another chemistry hit. Green has all the right comedic and vocal tools to make his an audience, and this critic favorite.
Aja Norman, Kimberly Sullivan, and Jen Ryan as Crystal, Ronnette and Chiffon
If Nikki Haley wanted to make sure the current crisis was in control, she could easily deploy these three girls. Each one of these Doo-Wop chicks bring their different performance styles together for a fabulous streetwise pot luck of sass. This is Aja Norman’s first show, and you would never know it. When she sings “Alarm goes off at seven” on the highest step of the stoop, the audience starts to throw hymnals around because it is time to go to church. This one displays elegant style and grace, and vocal power. Speaking of vocal power, Kimberly Sullivan sings like a classically trained Patty Lupone, with deft comedic timing, and a face that demands attention in the best way possible. Jen Ryan serves up her Peggy Lee realness with her sultry vocals. Listening to her makes you want to light up a cigar, pour your favorite bourbon, and fire up some hot jazz. But the most remarkable thing about these ladies is their tight harmonies. Three different timbres come together to sizzle more then a fajita plate at Outback.
Steven R. Tiderman as Orin Scivello……………..DDS
If anyone is missing Patrick Swayze, you are in luck, because he is now performing in this production as The Dentist. Tiderman must have watched the film The Outsiders and said “I will have better hair then all of you”. He brings his retractable gas personae to Scrivello, as well as serving up some delightful characterizations in the triple header of Bernstein, Mrs. Luce, and Skip Snip in Act Two.
Little shop aficionados will delight in the Plant antics on display with this production. Anthony Williams provides some Soul Train realness with the plant vocals, and adept acting. And major applause for the operators of the Plant. As the plant grows, the tremendous artistic puppetry from Alex Petsche, Genevieve Vince, and Steven Heintel is fantastic. I really enjoyed their display of comedic plant manipulation.
The company rounds out with Natalie Dolezal, Rosi Jamison, Petscher serving double duty, and Stephen Bundy. Bundy’s vocal resonance is fierce. He needs his own radio show, or Shakespearean monologue stat.
Musical Direction provided by David W. Coxe was perky and fun, except a few of the numbers felt under tempo. Choreography provided by Pamela LaForce was a bit uneven. The movement in the window scenes were great, but personally I was looking for more sass and executed movement from the doo-wop ladies. Set, Sound, and Lighting Design provided by Edmond Wolff. Set and Sound were great, especially the projected back drop for the street scenes. However, I would have liked more dramatic lighting and isolation for more of the important moments. Brian Smith provided great costuming for the period.
Director Greta Rothman has put together a fun show for Little Shop addicts, theatrical families, and date night. I really enjoyed myself immersing myself into this crazy musical.
And, thanks for the seed packet on the way out. I will let you know what grows!?
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Chagrin Valley Little Theatre
40 River Street
Chagrin Falls, OH 44022