Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

May 14, 2010

Little Shop of Horrors

Greene Room Productions, Northampton, MA
through May 16, 2010
by Shera Cohen

There are two things wrong with "Little Shop of Horrors." 1) This delightful, humorous, sci-fi musical comedy only runs for one weekend. 2) The programs give no actor bios. The first problem is a big one, because those who have not seen advertisements, are familiar with Greene Room, and/or read Spotlight reviews will have missed this community theatre gem. The second problem is smaller, although it would be helpful to read about the actors' backgrounds.

Three ever-present "doo-op" gals sing 50's girl group numbers as they take the audience from scene to scene. These Skid Row alumnae dress alike, prance alike, and are always in synch. The little shop is a flower store where wonders begin to happen - some good, some bad, all hysterically funny. The three main characters are stereotypes: the Jewish boss Mushnik, the ditzy bleached blonde Audrey, and the nebbish Seymour. The fourth star, and certainly the largest in girth, is the carnivorous vegetation Audrey II.

Audiences can count on Luis Manzi to turn in exceptional performances. He does not disappoint, although sometimes his singing talents seem a little too good for his self-deprecating Seymour. Young actor Ryan Duchesne fools us as the 60-something, brow beating Mushnik. While portraying her caricature well, Andrea Wilson is often inaudible. Steve Pierce chews up the scenery and spews it out in the spit-sink, as The Dentist.

Kudos go to the voice of Audrey II, aka The Plant, and her/its manipulator; Kasey Greene and James-Ethan Linton, respectively. This "thing" grows from tiny to gigantic. One would expect such design and costume building from a professional theatre troupe with lots of money. Obviously, producer Erin Greene, director David Wallace, et al, spared no work or dollars to give Audrey II life.

A skilled quartet of musicians, headed by Elisabeth Weber, sets the background for ballads like "Suddenly Seymour" and rock numbers like "Feed Me." These songs, and the rest in the musical, are strewn with lyrics that could stand alone in comedy routines. It's not too late to get to the flower shop, but remember - don't feed the plants!