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Little Shop of Horrors

After a generation of undistinguished rock musicals that drown their singers in a flood of electrical instrumentation, it's refreshing to hear the varied rhythms and unabashed honesty of an "oldies" soundtrack in which the words come across as clear as a CD. The kudos here belong to Howard Ashman (book and lyrics) and Alan Menken (music), who adapted Richard Corman's quirky 1960 black and white B-movie cult classic for the stage in 1982.

The current Broadway roadshow revival of Little Shop of Horrors, now running at the Buell, is a high-energy feel-good show for the holidays, though some of the themes (domestic violence, a laughing gas-addled dentist, and a man-eating plant) are discretionary.

Photo from left to right, LaTonya Holmes (Ronnette), Iris Burruss (Chiffon), and Badia Farha (Crystal)
(L to R) LaTonya Holmes
(Ronnette), Iris Burruss
(Chiffon), and Badia Farha
(Crystal)
Photo: Craig Schwartz
The production features a host of strong voices led by three charming muses, Iris Burruss, Badia Farha, and Latonya Holmes, who provide the running commentary, right dance moves, street creds, and world-class harmony that frame the zany story.

Photo of Liz Pearce (Audrey) and Joe Farrell (Seymour)
Liz Pearce (Audrey) and
Joe Farrell (Seymour)
Photo: Janet Macoska










Joe Farrell captures the essence of Seymour, the kind-hearted, flower shop schmo who forms an uneasy alliance with a mutated Venus Fly-trap, gains celebrity status, gets the girl, and makes the ultimate sacrifice. Liz Pearce shines as the gum-chewing, esteem-challenged, platinum-haired, Bronx-tongued, empty-headed, kind-hearted Audrey.

Photo of Darin De Paul (Mushnik)
Darin De Paul (Mushnik)
Photo: Janet Macoska
Darin de Paul combines Job and Simon Legree in Mushnik, the crusty flower shop owner, who both becomes and gets his just desserts in the same moment.

Photo from left to right, James Moye (Orin) and Joe Farrell (Seymour)
(L to R) James Moye (Orin)
and Joe Farrell (Seymour)
Photo: Janet Macoska
James Moye is colorful as the greedy TV producer, the Clare Booth Luce send-up, and the ruthless promoter, but needs to be bigger as Orin to match up with the rest of the mayhem.

Photo of Michael James Leslie (Voice of Audrey II). Audrey II puppeteered by Anthony Asbury, Michael Latini and Marc Petrosino
Michael James Leslie
(Voice of Audrey II).
Audrey II puppeteered
by Anthony Asbury, Michael
Latini and Marc Petrosino
Photo: Craig Schwartz
But the star of the show is the ever-growing Audrey II, a plant with a most persuasive manner for satisfying its peculiar nutritional needs. As the voice of this larger-than-life creature, Michael James Leslie makes the most of his few short outbursts to build a turbo-charged personality that dominates the stage and sends waves of tongue-in-cheek horror throughout the Buell.

The fun only lasts through January 8th. 303-893-4100.



Bob Bows

 

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