PERRY — What should you do when you come across a carnivorous plant that has a taste for human blood? Run! Run to the Heritage Theatre this October to see Little Shop of Horrors directed by Derek Hendricks and Breanne Hendricks. With book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken, Little Shop of Horrors is a comedic classic horror story that was based off of the 1960 film by the same name from creator Roger Corman. This musical includes some catchy rock and roll, Motown, and doo-wop style songs and has been a fan favorite for decades. Heritage Theatre’s production is fantastic and will have you singing to the snappy beats and gasping in terror at this hungry plant with plans to take over the world.
Based in the slums of Skid Row in downtown New York City in the 1960’s, poor flower shop worker, Seymour Krelborn, finds an extraterrestrial plant that he names Audrey II after the girl he has a crush on. Interestingly, Audrey II thrives off fresh drops of Seymour’s blood. As the plant grows bigger, the flower shop starts bursting with success. Seymour becomes pressed to find more food for the plant and people started going missing.
Spencer Stevens played a very shy and nerdy Seymour with thick black glasses and slothful clothes. His off-pitch singing added greatly to the unfinished character and comedy of the night. The role of Audrey, the other shop assistant that Seymour likes, was played by Ashlee Giblette who truly shines in the role. Her dreamy eyed rendition of the song, “Somewhere That’s Green,” was heart warming and angelic while also able to deliver the punch lines with comedic finesse. Her line, “a big enormous twelve inch screen,” was a timely laugh, because it’s common now to own TVs about ten sizes that.
The puppetry of the plant was fun to watch progress throughout the show. Props designed by Keith Hoskisson and plant design by Derek Hendricks brought to life the maniacal monster Audrey II. I especially enjoyed the craftsmanship of the second size of Audrey II as Stevens has a fake hand in the jacket to replace his hand in the plant puppet. The larger Audrey II puppets were voiced by Jay Naumann and operated by Kael Ward. Naumann’s voice was booming with a low and gruff drawl. Unfortunately for opening night, Naumann’s microphone went out for a lot of the song, “Feed Me,” and I was unable to catch a lot of his demands and punch lines in the song.
Thankfully Audrey II ate the sadistic Orin the Dentist played by Tyler O’Bagy who also plays “everyone else.” O’Bagy truly creates a twisted and yet also goofy character in Orin who enjoys making people feel pain. His performance in the song, “Dentist!” was enjoyably silly while song, “Now (It’s Just The Gas),” was crazed and insane. The gas mask he wore was an impressive prop and looked like a large bubble old fashioned scuba divers may have worn.
Mr. Mushnik played by Jon Allen was sleezy and cringy in song, “Mushnik & Son.” He had a stuffed shirt giving him a flabby belly and a greasy comb over wig. When part of his wig was accidentally pulled off, he screamed in mock terror with great comedic effect.
I was very impressed with the NY street set design by Dereck Hendicks with the fire escape, street lights, and subway entrance. The large chain link curtains were a great backdrop, although I felt that the fabric section could use another couple feet as closing the curtains was a struggle throughout the night.
Heritage Theatre does not have a large area for a live pit orchestra; however, they were able to fit five band members at the front of the seating section for a live orchestra. I really enjoyed the live orchestra for the night as it was able to adjust to the speed of the comedy and flow of the show. Unfortunately, a big miss for the night was the sound system. There was a lot of microphone feedback, and the volume of the orchestra and sound effects were oftentimes louder than the vocals. Hopefully these effects can be worked out after opening night to make for a great run for the show.
Although there were a few hiccups throughout the evening, I really enjoyed this show, especially Giblette’s performance as Audrey. Heritage Theatre’s production of Little Shop of Horrors is family friendly Halloween fun for all ages. Bop-she-bop your way to Heritage Theatre to see Little Shop of Horrors this fall.