“Little Shop of Horrors,” running at the Nafe Katter theater from April 21 to May 21 and directed by Vincent Tycer, was a musical blast and a half.
The play revolves around klutzy protagonist Seymour Krelborn who helps run a plant shop with Mr. Mushkins — called “Mushkins” — down in Skid Row. Seymour is down on his luck, having an enormous crush on another character, Audrey. Unfortunately for Seymour, Audrey is in a relationship with Orin, an abusive, sadistic psychopath who operates as a dentist in his free time.
One day, Seymour brings out an exotic plant that he names “Audrey II.” The shop starts attracting business when he places Audrey II in the shop window, but he finds out that to sustain it, he has to feed it blood. As the plant grows, Seymour’s life spins out of control.
Robert Liniak does a great job of playing the protagonist. His physicality throughout the first half is perfectly over-the-top, as he knocks around flowers and chairs in his journey for Audrey’s love and Mr. Mushkin’s approval. As success comes to him in waves, Liniak tones down the clumsiness as Seymour’s confidence shoots up and it’s a nice touch.
Other positives include Liniak’s singing ability, along with having a great dynamic with the three pseudo-narrators Chiffon (Emmanuella Agoumba), Ronnette (Kee Prusmark) and Crystal (Briana Dawson). They also serve up most of the musical numbers, which comprises a combination of doo-wop and Motown. It’s surprisingly catchy and simple; the main theme is an earworm of an opener.
“I really loved the set design and the puppetry especially was very creative,”-Andrew Eudei
Mr. Mushnik, who serves as a father figure to Seymour, is played by Paul Flores. He’s cheesy, campy and greedy, which all works quite well within the absurd context of the play. He especially shines when singing to Seymour, begging to be his dad because he doesn’t want his one source of wealth and success for the shop to leave him broke.
Megan O’Connor embodies Audrey, a neurotic and submissive woman, who bounces around Seymour and Orin. She fits right in and skillfully hits the high notes in songs; usually stealing the show while on stage. Charles Rusciano plays Orin, the dentist who loves to huff nitrous oxide and slap Audrey around. Despite being evil, one can’t help but smile at his cheesy performance. He also plays three to four separate characters at the end of the show.
There’s an interesting dynamic between Seymour and Audrey. Although both are being exploited for another’s personal gain, they also encourage each other’s ambition. Sure, the nice guy stereotype is cranked up to a thousand here, but the way the play weaves their two stories together is a heartwarming one — minus the parts where Seymour has to get bigger fish for the plant to fry.
“I really loved the set design and the puppetry especially was very creative,” Andrew Eudei, a second-semester computer science student, said.
Audrey II was impressive and nearly doubled in size every time it appeared on stage. By the end, it was bigger than any of the cast members and had vines acting as arms. Tony King did an awesome job voicing and playing the budding plant whose only wish in this universe — with the exception of blood — is to dominate the planet.
Lastly, the play took place in one location, which was Mushkin’s shop. Even though the audience was technically stuck in one setting, the set never felt boring.