Do what the Doo Wop Girls do, and sing along to the fun and rather twisted musical that is currently staging at Vernon’s Powerhouse Theatre.
In a visually stunning and beautifully sung romp, Little Shop of Horrors keeps the audience well satiated with what is a rather disturbing premise, that of a carnivorous plant who forces its owner to kill for it.
Powerhouse director Lana O’Brien and her delicious cast do the story justice, singing their way through many memorable numbers backed by musical director Paul Hunter and his terrific band.
You instantly know you are in for a treat when singing narrators the Doo Wop Girls, Anita Baturin, Lori Hancock, Anna Anderson, Michelle Fleck and Lisa Thompson, set the scene harmonizing the title song, Little Shop of Horrors, before launching into the fantastic ensemble number Skid Row.
And just when you’re getting a little hungry, you’re introduced to the cutest couple this side of Brooklyn, lead actor Sheldon Graham, who is perfectly cast as nerdy exotic plant collector Seymour, and Emma Dorval, as the broken down flower shop assistant Audrey.
A Grade 12 student at W.L. Seaton Secondary, Graham has a promising future in the theatre. Hopefully he will keep doing live musicals, as his voice and projection are well suited for the stage.
Fellow Grade 12 Seaton student Dorval has a voice as pure as the driven snow. Her talents are captured perfectly in the beautiful Somewhere That’s Green, her performance comparable to that of stage actress Ellen Greene, who played the role on Broadway as well as in the 1986 movie, also starring Rick Moranis and Steve Martin.
Both Dorval and Graham make beautiful music together when singing Suddenly, Seymour.
Speaking of Martin, Bron Johnson is absolutely hilarious, and infuriating, as Audrey’s sadistic, nitrous oxide inhaling boyfriend Orin Scrivello.
His versions of Dentist! and the laughing gas knockout Now (It’s Just the Gas) are scene stealers to an epic proportion, while Scott Madden, playing flower shop mensch, Mr. Mushnik, holds his own in Ya Never Know and Mushnik and Son.
And then there’s that hungry, hungry plant, Audrey II, whose Feed Me comes straight outta Harlem, and whose vines lead up to the baritone voiced Chris Colclough, who is unseen but whose presence is definitely felt.
Set designer Dave Brotsky once again gets a standing ovation for creating a revolving set worthy of Broadway, and sound operator Randy “Bones” Jones also deserves a pat on the back for making the singers sound as good as they do.
Those hungry for a dark, comic trip through ‘60s Motown and mania should pay a visit to this Little Shop.
The musical continues at Powerhouse Theatre for a matinee today and Saturday at 2 p.m. and evening shows Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be ordered at the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.
— Kristin Froneman is the arts and entertainment editor at the Vernon Morning Star.