The Community Theatre of Greensboro held their opening night of an adaptation of the comedy musical, “Little Shop of Horrors” on Friday evening. From families and couples, to college students and seniors, a variety of members of the Greensboro community attended the opening night of CTG’s “Little Shop of Horrors.” The comedy was, for the most part, PG-13 friendly, with minor bleep-worthy words appropriate to the context of the scene and mostly adult cast.
A reconstruction of the original film, “Little Shop of Horrors,” the CTG adaptation was based on the comedy musical adaptation released in 1986. The production of CTG’s Little Shop of Horrors featured director Bobby Bodford, who is a professional director, playwright and actor with over 40 years of experience.
The story of “Little Shop” revolves around the dilemma of the protagonist, Seymour, who must decide how much of himself he’s willing to sacrifice to appease a flesh-eating Venus flytrap, that appeared to him during a solar eclipse.
The show opens with a delightfully memorable bop by a chorus of the characters Chiffon, Crystal and Ronnette, played by Jaylyn Dallas Noble, Lake Sims-Winfrey and Aisha Sougou. Seymour, played by Ryan Young, is a first-year theatre student at UNCG.
In the beginning of the show, significant interactions occur between Seymour and his boss, Mr. Mushnik, who owns the floral shop, the primary set and location of the show. Mr. Mushnik is played by Smev Farris, an active participator in CTG productions over the last two years.
Initially, Mr. Mushnik is contemplating closing the floral shop due to a lack of business, but his bad luck changes when Seymour encounters an unusual plant that materialized on the day of a solar eclipse.
The alien qualities of the plant attract people far and wide, and it saves the business. However, the plant, named Audrey II, creates problems for Seymour and his co-worker, Audrey as its thirst for blood presents outrageously funny, suspenseful and quirky exchanges between characters. The combination of absurd characters, ‘60s music and the plot of a horror film brings about a unique genre that hits notes of horror, humor, romance and family, which is fitting for the month of October.
Seymour’s affection toward his co-worker Audrey, played by Ariel Lemerle-Mousset, influences him to name the plant “Audrey II.” Ariel has been involved in CTG for the past six years.
While Audrey II certainly occupied the role of central antagonist in “Little Shop,” perhaps the most unsettling character was introduced as Audrey’s physically abusive boyfriend, Orin Scrivello, D.D.S (also referred to as the dentist).
The abusive nature of the dentist was conveyed through the whimpering and fear Audrey displayed when he would yell at her.
The sexually charged nature of his key musical number, titled “Dentist!” caused the audience to both cringe and laugh; yielding mixed emotional responses from the audience. The stage presence of Orin Scrivello, D.D.S, played by Matthew Cravey, brought about lingering laughter and sly smirks due to his hip-gyrating dancing and masochistic jokes.
As the play progressed, the plant, Audrey II, grew from the size of a palm-sized pot, to the size of about two and a half adult men. The set used varying puppets, designed by Martin P. Robinson, as Audrey II even began to speak and sing, taunting Seymour and driving him to the edge. Two different individuals played Audrey II, with Chance Galloway operating the voice, and Wyatt Green as the puppeteer.
Live music was played for the musical numbers of this performance, with the musicians to the right side of the stage. Dr. Christy Elkins, owner of the private studio, Music Matters Studio is the music director as well as the keyboardist for this production, with Tim Wray on the drums, Guy Kelpin playing the bass and Chris Tilley, the pianist. It was a joy to witness the precision and melody of live music, as well as the way the actors interacted with the musicians, sarcastically prompting sound-effect cues and rhetorical questions.
With all the intricate choreography, live music, singing and the upbeat energy and movement needed for this production, by the time the actors were ready to take their bow, sweat glistened off their foreheads and their chests rose and fell with heavy breaths. The play, of roughly two hours, provided a fulfilling level of entertainment in the most seasonally suitable time of year.