“Little Shop of Horrors” – Hale Centre Theatre
This review aired on KBAQ July 18, 2011
HALE CENTRE’S “LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS” IS AN ENTERTAINING DELIGHT
“LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS”
Hale Centre Theatre
Community theater opening nights are often awkward, mistake-plagued disasters but the poised and professional Hale Centre Theatre production of “Little Shop of Horrors” proved an entertaining delight at Friday’s flawless premiere.
The silly show has its tongue firmly in its cheek as it affectionately and amusingly mocks a weird, man-eating plant that turns a struggling skid row florist into a huge success. The plant takes over, though, and ends up devouring all the characters. The simple plot is filled with comic merriment as it lampoons dozens of stereotypes but the musical still imparts a valid message that using artificial marketing stimuli will hurt more than help a business.
To be successful, a “Little Shop of Horrors” production must, like the script, run with the campy excesses and deftly play the comic shenanigans with a stalwart seriousness that turns it hysterically funny. Both requirements are strongly and ably handled by both the talented cast plus Cambrian James’ nimbly staged production. This expert cast and the delightful wacky staging use the script’s laughable mockery to make the silliness sublimely ridiculous.
Since the musical uses few locales – most of the show takes place in the run-down florist shop – it adapts particularly well to the Hale Centre’s intimate in-the-square stage. The few set changes are nicely choreographed into the production and opening night there wasn’t a misstep in the swiftly staged, two-hour performance.
The Hale Centre does use recorded music, something I will never condone in a live musical production because there’s no music director who can adjust tempos to fit staging irregularities. But the recorded music is hardly noticeable here because the cast is so adept at working with the tempos.
The cast is perfection from Chad Campbell’s ditzy but focused and determined Seymour, the plant discoverer, to Alaina Beauloye’s deliciously accented Audrey, the floral salesperson who hasn’t a clue about her mistreatment from her sadistic dentist boyfriend, played with swarmy egotism by Rob Stuart. There’s the old curmudgeon Mr. Mushnik, the shop owner, played flawlessly by Gary Caswell. A small chorus sings and dances throughout as they give plot clues and commentary, and there’s the wonderfully colorful and constantly growing plant that becomes its own character as it is masterfully manipulated by Manda Leigh Blunt with raucous vocals provided by Brent Graham.
Hale Centre’s delightfully entertaining “Little Shop of Horrors” is the perfect summer funfest. It continues through August 27. For tickets, call the Hale Centre Theatre box office at 480-497-1181 or order tickets online at www.haletheatrearizona.com.