Little Shop of Horrors

Date 12th November 2021
Society Springers Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society
Venue The Cramphorn Theatre Chelmsford
Type of Production Musical
Musical Director Barry Miles
Choreographer Kieren Bedwell


Author: Christine Davidson

Springers - Little Shop of Horrors

Cramphorn Theatre, Chelmsford


Director Barry Miles

Choreographer - Kieran Bedwell

Musical Director - Callum Bates


A warm welcome was given to us as we entered the packed foyer of the Cramphorn Theatre, it was really appreciated that the Director, Barry Miles and his Assistant Director, Catherine Gregory were there to welcome and spend time with us, normally directors are totally immersed backstage during a show; it was so good to see that they were incredibly confident, happy and able to watch the show.  As a reviewer, it is always really helpful to be able to fill in the gaps of how a production comes to fruition and the problems that befall, especially during this year of the Pandemic.

I was really interested when reading the informative programme to find that Barry had played the role of Orin, the dentist, fifteen years ago and we had seen the show at that time.  Barry obviously understood the concepts of the musical and did a fantastic job, making this production his own.  A good director makes a great show and this certainly was very impressive.

The fixed set had been designed by Barry, making full use of the limited space in the Cramphorn Theatre.  A shop window and door overlooked Skid Row with dustbin outside at stage left and shop stage right. Stairs either side were used to good effect by the cast with the band hidden above. Black and white costumes and lighting effects were chosen at the beginning with the colour gradually being brought up as the plant grew. This was a very clever idea and worked well. Unfortunately the muslin in the window of the shop allowed backstage crew and cast entering and departing to be illuminated. Maybe a low level blue light could have been used during set changes?

The production is reliant on strong visual characters, with powerful singing abilities. These were achieved really well.  Olivia Rose as Audrey had a simply beautiful voice, looking stunning in her costumes. Jon Newman Schultz as Seymour was terrific, cleverly depicting the downtrodden, nerdy botanist, with emotion and pathos.   The two actors were perfectly matched and their duet “Suddenly Seymore” was exquisitely sung.

Colin Shoard made a believable Mr. Mushnik and his Jewish accent was consistent. He really looked the part, I enjoyed ‘Mushnik and Son’ with the additional ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ style choreography.

The trio, Crystal, Chiffon and Ronnette, (Lexy Phillips, Rebecca Webber, Sophie Lines) had excellent singing voices and Barry used them to clever effect when the plant was eating its prey.  Yes the plant was this time a person, a really original take on the story line, had a fantastic costume, hand made by Leonie Rose. Kieran Bedwell had a great singing voice and his facial expressions were wonderful.  Hard to know just what the face of a plant would look like but he managed to convey so much.  Kieran is to be commended for also doing his own facial makeup.

I am all for a society trying to ‘push the boundaries’ with each show, to achieve new and exciting ideas. This Barry did although I still have to admit to preferring the puppet plant more, although I do understand the costs involved in hiring it.

Orin (Mark Rowell) the chemical snorting, vile, mad dentist was played with fun, aggression and humour.  I missed him arriving on his motorbike but the constraints of the stage meant this could not be achieved. The wino on stage left caught my eye as he kept his character all through the show, as did the girls either side of the stage who were all involved with their own different characters. It’s good to see that even though they were not lead roles, each one of them had a part to play.

The directors had made sure that there was great characterisation by all the actors and the ensemble singing was excellent. The choreography by Kieran Bedwell who was also the plant was well executed.  Callum Bates the Musical Director gave the show a good sound balance so we could hear all the singers without any of them being overwhelmed. This was a really excellent production and we were so pleased to be invited. Congratulations to all.

Christine Davidson

Nov 2021

Noda East

District 8