Little Shop of Horrors

Date 10th June 2022
Society Hayling Musical Society
Venue Station Theatre, Hayling Island
Type of Production Musical
Director Zoe Fisher
Musical Director Tom Davison
Choreographer Zoe Fisher

Report

Author: Mark Donalds

Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s Little Shop of Horrors is billed as a “horror comedy rock musical”, and it certainly fulfils every aspect of that brief! It is pretty much sung through with great music and lyrics, and moments of high comedy punctuated by some quite dark moments of horror. Zoe Fisher has assembled a very strong cast for this production which, along with many others, had been delayed for two years by the pandemic. It was well worth the wait.

The down-at-heel neighbourhood scene was set well by street urchins Ronnette (Amy Sackman), Crystal (Abbey Bensley), Chiffon (Lauren Elkins) and Rosa (Holly Fisher), who popped up regularly during the show, commenting on the action. They, along with the rest of the ensemble provided great vocal support and interpreted the choreography with precision – essential with such a big cast on a relatively small stage – and helped keep the show moving along at a cracking pace.

Sean Ridley was perfect as nerdy flower shop assistant Seymour, who unwittingly unleashes a man-eating plant on the world. We felt his pain as he longed for fellow assistant Audrey and his anger at the plant taking over his life, through every word of his songs, which were rendered so passionately. As Audrey, Grace Campbell was every inch the victim of her dentist boyfriend and although she wished for better things, could not see a way out. She has a beautiful singing voice, especially when duetting with Sean.

Duncan Hobbs provided a solid, fatherly counterpoint to Seymour’s innocence, all too willing to ignore the “little red dots on the linoleum” in return for the success of the shop. Lucas Bradshaw was outstanding as Audrey’s abusive dentist boyfriend, Orin Scrivello, switching in a trice from warm and friendly to completely insane. A very assured and believable performance of a difficult character. Although unseen until the very end, Matt Sackman imbued Audrey II with great character and sassiness. His deep, rich voice perfect for the role. We mustn’t forget the plant operators (Katie Fiddaman, Megan Fisher, Colin Fisher and Matt Sackman) who made the puppets come alive under probably very difficult and sweaty circumstances!

On the subject of the puppets – the plants are key to this show and they were of excellent quality, as indeed was the rest of the box set, dressed realistically with good props. Scene changes were managed quietly and efficiently while action took place in front of the curtain and the clever lighting highlighted the plants well. Costumes throughout were excellent and appropriate for the 1960s setting, and Audrey had some fabulous shoes to totter about on!

The eight-piece band, under MD Tom Davison, hidden away backstage, produced a great sound which was mixed well with the mic’d cast so that hearing the lyrics was not a problem.

What a triumphant return to the stage for this talented group! The packed house really showed its appreciation at the end, and we went home humming the catchy tunes and feeling elated after a great evening’s entertainment.