Little Shop of Horrors is one of those shows that is either done really, really well or extremely poorly; there’s rarely an in-between. Fortunately, the North Carolina Theatre production at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, directed by Casey Hushion, falls into the first category. The show bursts with fun all the way from the snazzy opening number to the always-creepy ending. The set, designed by Theatre Under the Stars, features an intricately designed flower shop and a backdrop of ramshackle buildings, putting the viewer right on 1950s Skid Row.
Gina Milo struts her stuff as a gawdy, scantily clad Audrey; and Noah Putterman, a graduate of North Carolina Theatre‘s conservatory, holds his own as Seymour. While his singing voice is often a little less than stellar, he manages to make Seymour both pathetic and likable at the same time.
The three street urchins Ronette (Rebecca Covington), Crystal (Natalie Renee), and Chiffon (Danielle K. Thomas) come close to stealing the show, thanks to some truly eye-catching choreography, also by Hushion; and fabulous costumes by Ann M. Bruskiewitz.
The legendary Michael James Leslie brings the devious Audrey II to life with his booming voice, and Parker Fitzgerald serves as the plant’s manipulator. Evan Casey (Orion) is thoroughly enjoyable as well, especially during his rendition of “Dentist!”
The show garners laughs throughout, and features careful attention to detail that adds to the fun and excitement of the show. Orion, for example, has a picture of a molar stitched onto the back of his jacket. Small details such as this prove that this North Carolina Theatre production doesn’t take itself too seriously. It presents Little Shop of Horrors as exactly what it is, a thoroughly hokey little comedy.
Audience members of all ages can have fun with this one. Although the material is dark, it is never presented as grotesque or overly violent, as is often done with Little Shop of Horrors. The show is over all too quickly, and is sure to leave audience members humming its tunes for days to come.
SECOND OPINION: Sept. 21st Classical Voice of North Carolina review by Jeffrey Rossman: http://cvnc.org/reviews/2010/092010/NCT1.html; Sept. 21st Raleigh, NC News & Observer by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/09/21/693096/little-shop-full-of-talent-marred.html and Sept. 15th preview by Katelyn Ferral: http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/09/15/681613/a-playful-passion-that-pushes.html; and Sept. 16th Raleigh, NC WRAL-TV interview with Gina Milo: http://www.wral.com/entertainment/video/8302017/#/vid8302017. ((To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Sept. 17th Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/09/that-mean-green-mother-from-outer-space-is-back-in-north-carolina-theatres-little-shop-of-horrors/.)
The North Carolina Theatre presents LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at 8 p.m. Sept. 22-24, 2 and 8 p.m. Sept. 25, and 2 and 7 p.m. Sept. 26 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
BOX OFFICE: NCT Box Office: 919/831-6941. Ticketmaster: 800/745-3000, 919/834-4000, or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/820939.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): firstname.lastname@example.org or http://nctheatre.com/theatre/group_sales.html.
NCT BLOG: http://northcarolinatheatre.blogspot.com/.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh (http://www.artsaccessinc.org/) will audio describe the 2 p.m. Sept. 25th performance.
The Musical: http://www.mtishows.com/show_detail.asp?showid=000188 (Music Theatre International) and http://www.ibdb.com/show.asp?ID=11223 (Internet Broadway Database).
The Films: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054033/ (1960 horror film) and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091419/ (1986 musical) (Internet Movie Database).
Casey Hushion: http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=417670 (Internet Broadway Database).