It should be brought to attention that this review is for the Friday night showing and any differences between shows will not be addressed.
I’ve been going to Burnside High School productions since before I started high school and I have to say Little Shop of Horrors probably has to be my favourite. The leading cast was brilliant, so brilliant in fact that the second act did not seem quite as good as the first act because some of the valuable cast members had been killed off. The music was fantastic, seeming not to make a single recognizable mistake throughout the whole production. The tech crew were on queue for practically every stage, lighting and sound effect. The overall impression of the production was a positive one receiving praise from the entire audience.
The cast for Little Shop of Horrors was probably its greatest feature, each and every actor and actress stepped into the role of their characters effortlessly.
As the story developed we discovered that Seymour was unexpectedly capable of doing terrible things, making him a much more intriguing character than he first seemed.
The decision to cast Julian Chu Tan as the lead role of Seymour was ingenious. The first appearance of him (stumbling with a tray of plants) made him instantly recognizable as the typical “dreamer-with-no-talent” character we would expect in a Broadway musical. However, as the story developed we discovered that Seymour was unexpectedly capable of doing terrible things, making him a much more intriguing character than he first seemed. Julian Chu Tan plays this character exceptionally with his combination of singing talent and acting prowess. The audience can truly feel for Seymour and sympathise with him regardless of his outrageous behaviour towards the final act.
The role of Audrey is a tough role to play because of her timidity she can sometimes be more annoying than compelling, however Lucy Henry makes this role seem effortless. In her first scene I thought she was good, she could act and she held the accent pretty well but at this point I wasn’t entirely blown away, it wasn’t until she sang her solo “Somewhere that’s Green,” that I realized she was perfect. I suddenly found myself caring for the character and when she finally met her demise I was actually moved.
Tom Winter was a fantastic Mushnik; owning his fake accent better than anyone else in the cast. His fluent transition between emotions created a much more dynamic atmosphere for every scene he was in. Whether he was acting angry, happy or suspicious every line he delivered was delivered with finesse. He seemed the most comfortable on stage, making a very formulaic Broadway character like Mr. Mushnik seem much more relatable and realistic.
Every flick of the hair, every thrust of his pelvis and every growl through his teeth was met by roars of laughter from the audience.
When Joe Coughlan strutted on stage as Orin in a leather jacket and tight leather pants the audience began cheering, it seemed the school comedian had returned. Often people will cheer and laugh for Joe just because it’s Joe, it doesn’t matter what he’s doing, people just come to expect to be entertained by him even if he’s not really that funny. I refused to be swayed by this initial reaction and made a point before watching to be as critical as possible. I have to say this may be one of Joe’s greatest performances to date. Every action and line was delivered superbly with the humour and confidence you come to expect from him. Every flick of the hair, every thrust of his pelvis and every growl through his teeth was met by roars of laughter from the audience.
A special mention for Audrey II’s body and voice; Bridie Sanders and Brian Lee, who did well to time each other’s actions while still delivering Audrey II’s distinct and detailed characterization.
The band was flawless, full of skilled and talented musicians who were obviously well-rehearsed.
There were not so many out-right jokes or puns, most of the humour came from the talented cast and their dedication to the ridiculousness of their characters. It turned out that that was in fact better, seeing as a production with too many puns can feel forced and less genuine. A major selling point for a production like Little Shop is its practical effects, although the props were not big-budget masterpieces, their homemade quality seemed to fit with the playful atmosphere of the overall production. As well as this the Audrey II’s used were very dynamic and served their purpose well; having good expressions, whilst still being able to hold actors within the puppets. The band was flawless, full of skilled and talented musicians who were obviously well-rehearsed. This was emphasised by the extraordinary sound equipment the Aurora Centre has been privileged with, it was so good that it sounded as if the entire play had been pre-recorded in a studio.
Little Shop of Horrors was not without its faults however; the choreography from the chorus was great and it was a shame that they were only onstage for the “Downtown (Skid Row)” number because it felt like having them sit on the edge wings was unnecessary. The tramps were funny and played quite well by Sam Doughty and Jack Whittam, however unfortunately their antics were sometimes distracting and overall unnecessary for the production altogether. Luckily none of these flaws affected the production too drastically and can easily be shrugged off as my own personal pet-peeves.
Overall I give Little Shop of Horrors a 9/10, this production had a fantastic cast, fantastic band and fantastic direction on and off stage, and I would’ve happily given this production a perfect score if it weren’t for a few minor irritations.