Review: 'Little Shop of Horrors' at Vagabond Players
"Little shop, little shop of horrors, bop-shoo-bop, little shop of terror..." I've had this song stuck in my head ever since arriving at the cozy and charming Bernie Legge Theatre in New Westminster, where Vagabond Players' production of Little Shop of Horrors is playing until the end of the month.
Little Shop is considered a cult classic musical, with book & lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken. Mixing 50s style doo-wop music, B-movie-level twisted humour and a familiar longing for the American Dream, it tells the story of Seymour Krelborn (Ryan Waechter), a mousy assistant in a failing flower shop on skid row, which he desperately hopes to escape one day. His whole life changes when he discovers a new species of plant, which he names Audrey Two after his co-worker and long-time crush, Audrey. As the plant grows, however, so does its appetite, and it has a very...particular diet...human blood!
Vagabond's production is, frankly, a joy to watch. I couldn't stop smiling the whole time. The cast is strong, despite being a bit low-energy during Wednesday night's show. Noteworthy performances are Annie Arbuckle as the adorable Audrey, Tiana Swan as doo-wop girl Chiffon, and Regi Nevada as the voice of Audrey Two. As soon as the giant plant opened its Venus-Fly-Trap-esque mouth and Nevada's rich voice came out, I got chills. Another standout is Thomas Lamont as Audrey's sadistic dentist boyfriend, Orin Scrivello. Lamont's voice is outstanding, and he handled a few technical blips and costume malfunctions with ease.
Director Matthew Davenport, who also pulled double duty as set designer, created a fabulous set which changed as the show went on, adding more florals and colours as the flower shop got more business. Davenport does a fine job of creating the two worlds on stage: the inside of the flower shop and the back alley, which are connected by a door marked "Deliveries Only". However, the separation of the two worlds is broken in the second act, when characters continuously cross the "wall" of the flower shop into the alley without using the door; it's a little jarring when the two separate locations have already been established.
All in all, Little Shop is a thoroughly entertaining show that is worth the trek out to Queen's Park. Tickets are available at https://www.vagabondplayers.ca/tickets. Little Shop of Horrors is directed by Matthew Davenport, with music direction by Julie Atchison and choreography by Damon Bradley Jang. The show runs until October 29th.