Little Shop of Horrors at Musical Theatre West

That lovable mean green man-eating plant that reigned supreme in one of the longest and most popular crowd-pleasing Off Broadway musical has landed in Long Beach in a sleek, off beat, and thoroughly entertaining production since the revival touring company hit Los Angeles just a few years back directly from Broadway.

That Musical Theatre West’s production of Little Shop of Horrors closely resembles that production is not an accident and it is not necessarily a liability.

Sets, costumes, and the puppets are modeled after that successful run and Michael A. Shepperd, also Artistic Director of Celebration Theatre in Los Angeles, reprises his 2003 Broadway role as the voice of Audrey II.

Martin P. Robinson’s original 1982 Audrey II designs (this time by way of the Jim Henson Creature shop) are also featured with no less than four incarnations of the blood-thirsty creature from outer space.

A down and out florist’s assistant, Seymour Krelborn (Danny Gurwin) suddenly finds success, fame, and the girl when he discovers an exotic plant that turns out to be a little more than he bargained for. As with any story of sudden fame and success-it comes with a high price and for Seymour it comes in the form of this blood sucking plant that demands fresh meat in order to thrive.

Prominently displayed at Mr. Muschnik’s (Stuart Pankin) skid row flower shop, Seymour garners not only attention from everyone, but also from his co-worker, Audrey (Lowe Taylor) who’s taste in men includes a masochistic rebel motorcycle dentist (Peter Paige).

The opening number (“Little Shop of Horrors”), as sung by a Greek Chorus of three street urchins (Meloney Collins, Frederika Meek, and Kamilah Marshall) with names from 1950s girl groups is the weakest element in the show with a stiff choreographed number (choregraphy by DJ Gray).

However, by the next number (“Skid Row/Downtown”), they recover completely and maintain a strong hold through the end. Gurwin is ideal as the loveable but nerdy Seymour, with a robust voice and Taylor absolutely steals the show with the signature musical number, “Somewhere That’s Green.”

Queer as Folk veteran, Peter Paige is also hilarious as the demented Dr. Orin Scrivello, DDS and various other characters.

As a whole, the cast is magnificent in Howard Ashman (lyrics) and Alan Menken’s (music) 50’s R&B, do-wop score of a horror spoof. Director (and Associate Artistic Director of MTW) Steven Glaudini’s fun pacing keeps the show moving along to the music while the colorful sets and costumes from the original Broadway revival production enhance the experience to bring a truly enjoyable musical back to the Los Angeles area.

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About Obed Medina
Obed received his BA in Creative Writing from the University of California at Riverside. He has freelanced and volunteered at various theatre companies in Los Angeles since 2002. He launched his own workshop theatre company in 2008 and has produced six original one-act plays and one Off-Broadway hit. Currently, he is living in Ashland, Oregon working on his writing and founder of Collaborative Theatre Project.

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