Review byTatum Stafford
It’s been a while since a production of Little Shop of Horrors has popped up in Perth, and Thursday night’s performance of this cult-classic musical was a welcome addition to the busy line-up of musicals we’ve enjoyed over the past few months.
The show’s opening number, ‘Prologue (Little Shop of Horrors), was crooned by the ‘Urchin’ trio of Crystal Heo as Crystal, Priscilla Le as Chiffon, and Samantha Jones as Ronnette. The women worked effectively together, navigating a sequence of complex choreography in this opening number. Each Urchin was vocally strong and carried plenty of sass into their scenework.
This performance featured the swing cast of the show, which saw Courtney Hough step into Audrey’s shows, Matthew Walford play Seymour, and Kier Shoosmith play Orin. Courtney (Audrey) was exceptional, displaying a tender naivety in her acting and plenty of nuance in her powerful singing voice. She vocally soared in ‘Somewhere That’s Green’ and ‘Suddenly, Seymour’, and her reprise of the former at the end of the show was one of its most touching moments.
One aspect of the show’s direction that felt a bit confusing was the placement of one of the Urchins onstage during some of the most intimate moments. I often felt distracted and compelled to look at the Urchin’s reactions to the scene, rather than looking at the action that was taking place. This was particularly the case in the duet ‘Mushnik and Son’, when an Urchin was sitting at the side of the stage, bopping along as Seymour and Mr. Mushnik shared a tender, bonding moment, and the ‘Somewhere That’s Green (reprise)’. This is arguably the most emotional and intimate moment of the entire show, so it felt strange to have a third person onstage with Seymour and Audrey as she explains the sentiment behind her desire to die and be fed to the plant.
It seemed to take Matthew (Seymour) a few scenes to get into the groove of Seymour, but he shone in his musical numbers and threw some exciting riffs into the beloved score. His rendition of ‘Sudden Changes’, in particular, provided great insight into his interpretation of Seymour as a timid and self-effacing man.
Jamie Mercanti’s performance as Mr. Mushnik, a father-figure to Seymour, provided plenty of comic relief and some impressive vocal projection. As is the case with other productions at this venue, microphone volume can be an issue – but Jamie’s vocals when singing or speaking were clear and commendable.
The ensemble of the show felt slightly underutilised, but when they were on stage, they created some entertaining tableaux and some comedic moments (their work in ‘The Meek Shall Inherit’ was an Act II highlight).
Unfortunately, some other aspects of the production felt quite underbaked. The Regal has quite a large stage to fill, and the set pieces felt quite small in the space – even only a few rows from the stage.
However, big ‘props’ (pun intended) should be given to the creative team for an impressive Audrey II plant puppet. There were audible ‘wows’ when the large plant took centre stage at the beginning of Act II, and the finale plant set (though a little hard to admire as it was placed so far upstage), provided a visual spectacle. Scott-Leonard Landers provided booming and looming vocals as the voice of the plant, and Kera Phillips did a fantastic job as the plant’s puppeteer.
This was a solid outing from Entertaind, a somewhat newly-formed Perth theatre company who now have a few shows under their belt. I look forward to learning what they’re planning to produce next year.