Review: 'Little Shop of Horrors' at WAMS

Nancy Sasso Janis

  • Connecticut Critic
  • Connecticut Critics Circle

"I know Seymour's the greatest
But I'm dating a semi-sadist"  - Audrey in "Somewhere That's Green"  

Waterbury, CT - The Waterbury Arts Magnet School (WAMS) is presenting a full and fun production of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ on the magnet school’s state-of-the-art Apron Stage. The show is proudly produced by principal Lauren Elias and theatre teacher Scott Schulte directed the production. I was invited to the final dress rehearsal but couldn’t make it until the very well-attended opening night. The two remaining performances are Nov. 18 and 19 at 7:00pm.

Mr. Schule gratefully acknowledges the other members of the theatre department in his director’s note, thanking them for helping to make their department one of the best in the state. Kudos to Steven Sudell for his work on set construction, Justin Amenta for his video direction and Jeanette Gumbulevich for her work on graphic design. Sean Lewis served as music director/conductor and played the enjoyable score most wonderfully on the piano, while band wizard Phillip Sterling played drums in the pit up in the balcony. The director was able to trust the choreography to Andrea Yargeau and I thought all of the dancing was spectacular.

The six Ronnettes (in sparkling mini dresses) singing the prologue of the title song made for a very strong opening and when the entire company came out for “Skid Row (Downtown)” it was wonderfully full. Other choral highlights were “Suddenly, Seymour” and the company on “The Meek Shall Inherit.” The use of the entire space was effective, with the evil dentist interacting with the audience members seated on the aisle and the Ronnettes singing and dancing, well, everywhere.

The dancers, Chloe Balikian, Amber Clavette, Hannah Flinter, Mary Marinaccio, Carly Neto and Megan Ross, added polish to the choreographed numbers while the members of the chorus were the residents of skid row and others. Kaitlyn-Jo Cocchiola took on the role of Patrick Martin well, while Tyler Nizzardo (Snip Snip,) Gina DiVito (Mrs. Luce,) and Jacob Wilkins (Mr. Brillstein) were all strong as hangers on. The radio on-air singers were played by Ms. DiVito, Thomas Hutchinson, Lily LaChance and Justin Ramos. 

Julia Maisano was a radio DJ, Gianna Viele was a lovely flower shop customer in the first act, and Vincent Dadamo appeared briefly as a narrator. The Ronnettes were played by six strong singers/dancers; kudos to Sofia Dadamo, Dania Fedrick (both last seen in NTT’s ‘Godspell,’) Lilliana Lopez, Shannaya Rodriguez, Abby Rickevicius, and the always fabulous Julia Rocchio. 

Brianna Crespo was the backstage voice of the large Audrey II plant and was a strong singer as the out of control plant. Samir Ryan Ahmed acted well in the role of shop owner Mr. Mushnick and Brock Sanford, usually seen onstage playing bass guitar, was awfully convincing as the perfectly awful Orin Scrivello and then quite manic under the influence of laughing gas. 

Sydney Yargeau was a surprisingly wonderful Audrey; in a mile high blonde wig and tight dress, I almost didn’t recognize her. She had the perfect Audrey I accent and sang “Somewhere That’s Green” just beautifully. For me, the star of the musical was Michael Ramalho in the role of Seymour Krelborn. This young actor can do it all and truly has a Broadway quality to his performance. He is a young man to watch for in upcoming productions. 

Emily Marcelynas was dubbed the plant operator and Tom Stoehrer was both tech director and lighting designer. Brittany Romanella gets the credit for the fabulous costumes, while the great hair and makeup design was by Rebekah Ross. 

Congratulations to the students at WAMS and the adults that work with them on yet another excellent production. It was such a pleasure for me to return to the school as the parent of a proud graduate. 

Poster by Rebekah Ross Photo of the cast by Marianna Vagnini-Dadamo