In the spirit of 1950’s B-movies like The Blob or The Day the Earth Stood Still, 2nd Star Productions is presenting Little Shop of Horrors at Bowie Playhouse at White Marsh Park. The musical originally directed and written by Howard Ashman, with composer Alan Menken and musical staging by Edie Cowan in 1982, Little Shop of Horrors is about a down and out floral assistant working in the skid row district. He becomes an overnight phenomenon when he discovers an exotic plant with a mysterious craving for fresh blood. “Audrey II” (the plant) grows into a cantankerous, Rhythm and Blues singing carnivore who offers the shop assistant fame and fortune in exchange for feeding its growing appetite.
A horror and a rock-n-roll musical comedy, directed and produced by Jane B. Wingard, Little Shop of Horrors is a musical extravaganza of rock, doo-wop, and Motown tunes that will please all ages. The production takes place in 1960 and that is clearly depicted by the set that was designed by Ms. Wingard; additional set credits go to Bill Bagaria, Gail Bagaria, and Anders Tighe. Most of the scenes take place in Mr. Mushnik’s floral shop (aka little shop of horror) as well as the stoops on either side of the exterior of the shop. Painted on the backdrop is a series of tall tenant buildings. A few scenes occur in front of a scrim curtain, like Orin’s dentist office scene.
‘Little Shop of Horrors’ is a bucket full of laughter and good solid entertainment for all ages to treasure.
Leads Nathan Bowen and Hannah Thornhill are stellar as the nerdy Seymour and the smoldering Audrey, the inspiration for Audrey II. Bowen is geeky and cute at the same time and harmonizes well with Thornhill, who is terrific combination of Marilyn Monroe and a blonde Betty Boop. Their chemistry is very apparent when they sing, “Suddenly, Seymour.” These two are made for each other.
Gary Seddon as Mr. Mushnik is a ringer for Jerry Stiller, voice and all. Seddon plays Mr. Mushnik as strong character and shows great “fatherly” affection for both Audrey and Seymour. That’s what makes this character so likable. Meanwhile, on the opposite side to the nice spectrum is Dean Davis who plays Orin the Dentist with the utmost disgrace. His character is abusive to Audrey and a bully to boot which is why no one sheds a tear when Audrey II enjoys him for dinner. Davis is just outstanding as the villain.
Malarie Novotny as Ronnette, Amy Mack as Crystal, and Meghan Taylor as Chiffon shine as the do-wop trio and as participants of the storyline that moves the action forward. Charming, they offer sensational song styles in the opening number “Prologue – Little Shop of Horrors” along with other toe-tappers as “Dentist!” and “Don’t It Go to Show Ya Never Know.”
Wendell Holland takes on three roles as a bum, a customer, and Patrick Martin and is very distinctive in each role. As a bum he is sloppy and rude, classy as the customer, and steadfast and slim-shady as Mr. Martin. Unfortunately, Audrey II does not take a shine to him and finds him quite tasty.
Josh Hampton as the radio announcer adds kooky commentary that rouses the action of the story. Other supporting roles included Carole Long as Mrs. Luce, Amy Jones as a Bag Lady, Adante Santos as Skip Snip, and Bridget Lally as Bernstein.
Kudos goes to Jeff Sprague as voice of Audrey II and as she grows the following cast members are to be commended for their puppetry: Steve Hudgins as the Main Puppeteer; Steve Mangum is a puppeteer and contributes to the chorus. Chorus and Plant roots are comprised of Chrisshall Daniel, Genevieve Ethridge, and Jessica Straub. Additional chorus members include Erin Lorenz and Deb Sola.
The costumes, created by Linda Swann and assistant by Gail Bagaria, are traditional of the late 1950’s garb that includes saddle shoes, neck scarves, rolled up jeans, polka dots and crinoline skirts. Let’s not forget Orin’s leather jacket and Seymour’s bow tie along with Audrey’s curve-hugging cocktail dress that can be attributed to the era.
Music direction is orchestrated by Joe Biddle and Hannah Thornhill choreographed dance segments.
Little Shop of Horrors is a bucket full of laughter and good solid entertainment for all ages to treasure. It’s also a fun way to kick off “Spooktober” and have fun with a group of friends, gal pals, or family.
Just a note: Parking is ample but there is a short walk down the road to the theater. Parking is not available at the theater, except for handicap spaces.
Running Time: Approximately two hours.
Little Shop of Horrors runs through October 26,2013 at Bowie Playhouse, 16500 White Marsh Park Drive, Bowie, MD 20715 (Just off Route 3 southbound). Their Gala Fund Raiser and auction is on October 6th.
Tickets are available by phone at 410-757-5700, 301 832-4819 or click here.