Nancy Sasso Janis
The final show of the 26th season at the Sharon Playhouse (formerly TriArts Sharon Playhouse) is the comedy horror rock musical ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ and despite a change in the cast, the season goes out with a bang.
‘Little Shop’ is based on the film by Roger Corman with a screenplay by Charles Griffith and the book and lyrics were written by Howard Ashman with catchy music by Alan Menken. Jennifer Werner, associate director of Broadway’s ‘The Book of Mormon,’ returned to Sharon to direct and choreograph this production and Eric Kang is the music director and conducts the four other musicians in the offstage pit.
Disney Channel Star Anneliese van der Pol was in rehearsal to play Audrey in this production but was unable to continue with the production due to a family emergency. In a press release dated Aug. 8 it was announced that Lauren Marcus, who appeared in this season’s ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ and the 2013 ‘They’re Playing Our Song’ in Sharon, stepped into the role five days before the show opened on Aug. 13. Fans of Ms. van der Pol expressed their disappointment on social media. Since I had seen Ms. Marcus in both of her previous performances in Sharon, I assured the young people that she would be a wonderful Audrey.
Ms. Marcus is also a songwriter and has written the book and lyrics to a kid’s musical ‘The Meanest Birthday Girl’ based upon the book by Josh Schneider that premiered in May at the New York Children’s Theatre Festival. She brought an adorable vibe to the role of the battered blonde and her newness to the role did not show in the least. Her version of “Somewhere That’s Green” was a heartbreaker. Kudos to this professional on being such a fabulous replacement.
In his Sharon Playhouse debut, Ryan Vona was the hapless but very cute Seymour and showed off his wonderful tenor singing voice and his command of physical comedy. Ira Denmark was an excellent Mr. Mushnick and he helped make “Mushnik and Son” a memorable number in the first act. Tatiana Lofton (Crystal,) Carla R. Stewart (Ronette,) and Ashley McManus (Chiffon) can wail individually, but put them together and they are a force to be reckoned with as the Greek chorus that switches between “street urchin” garb to sparkly blue shifts and long white gloves.
The only other members of this cast are Brandon Michael Nase as the voice of the hungry plant, Henry Yuliano as it’s puppeteer (I noticed the moving tentacles!) and Daniel Patrick Smith as Orin the Dentist, Bernstein, Luce, Snip, and Everyone Else. This very tall actor showed his versatility as he switched characters (and costumes) for his gaggle of fun characters.
Josh Smith designed the gritty set with a large revolving flower shop that was turned by crew members in skid row attire. Craig Stelzenmuller lit it with foggy haze. The costumes designed by Michelle Eden Humphrey worked well and the wigs for the street urchins were sky high and perfect.
‘Little Shop of Horrors’ continues through Aug. 30. The Fall Benefit at Sharon Playhouse will be a tribute to Cole Porter on Oct.24; more information will be posted on their website soon regarding stars for the evening, location and details. The Holiday Musical they are helping to develop called ‘Big Tim A Christmas Carol II’ will have a concert performance on Dec. 12 at 4:00pm. The score for this musical is now complete and takes place seven generations after the first Christmas Carol and involves visits from three spirits.The first show of next season will be ‘Gypsy.’