Theatre review by Philip Evans
HAVING never seen ‘Little Shops of Horrors’ before, I looked up a synopsis before attending Axminster Musical Theatre’s production at the Guildhall, their first ever Spring musical.
“A sci-fi horror musical about a geeky florist shop worker who finds out his venus fly trap can not only speak but gorges on human flesh.” Hmm. Not for me, I thought, but I was blown away by it.
Never afraid to take on a challenge, Axminster Musical Theatre proved yet again they can push their talents to the extreme and I was left thinking whether there’s a show that could test them beyond their capabilities. If so, this could well have been it – but they rose to that challenge and it was a brilliant success.
‘Little Shop of Horrors’ first appeared as a low-budget film in the 1960s, then adapted as an off-Broadway musical before the release of the 1986 American rock musical comedy, filmed at Pinewood Studios, costing $25million and which received wide acclaim.
Central to the whole plot was the presence of the speaking fly-trap which developed from a humble pot plant into the blood thirsty monster which transformed the fortunes of Mushnik’s Flower Shop in a run-down, rough neighbourhood of New York when it was discovered the plant, getting bigger all the time, needed human blood to survive.
Whilst the plant became ever more demanding, a three-girl Greek chorus – Crystal, Chiffon and Ronette , played by Robin Brakstad, Jasmine Hussey and Lisa Bicknell – kept the audience abreast of the pending doom.
The role of Mr Mushnik was entrusted to the experienced David Adams, a convincing performance as the paranoid shop owner whose business was going down the drain before his much put-on assistant Seymour discovers by accident when he pricked his finger that the plant needs blood to survive.
The meek, down-trodden Seymour – played by Dan Wilde, a young man with a burgeoning stage talent- who names the venus fly-trap Audrey II after the shop girl whom he idolises. Another talented young performer, Silvey Webber, plays the part of Audrey who is in an abusive relationship with Orin, a drug-crazed dentist from hell who ultimately kills himself by inhaling excessive nitrous oxide. Seymour disposes of the body – you know where.
Orin, the role taken by Bill Murray in the film, was played by stage veteran Ian Crew, an hilarious portrayal and one which would make anyone watching think twice about changing dentists.
Seymour and Audrey end up in love and feature in the musical highlight of the show – the duet “Suddenly Seymour” – but it doesn’t end well. Audrey is dying and guess where she ends up?
Jodie Glover put her vocal talents to god use as the voice of Audrey II, although we never saw her until the final curtain call, and the movements of Audrey II , another non-visible, was handled by Jess Richards.
This is by far the weirdest stage review I have written – but let’s face it, it’s the weirdest of shows.
Congratulations to Jack Price, turning his love of the stage to directing and producing, for presiding over yet another success for AMT.
Further challenges face Axminster Musical Theatre as they begin rehearsals shortly for their next production, ‘Made in Dagenham’, to be performed at the Guildhall in November (13-17) and in 2019 their two shows will be ‘Our House’ (May 30-June1) and ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ (November 23-19).
Cast: Silvey Webber, Dan Wilde, David Adams, Robin Brakstad, Lisa Bicknell, Jasmine Hussey, Ian Crew, Jodie Glover, Jess Richards.
Ensemble: Anette Wraxall, Adam Smith-Jones, Brian Cursley, Emily Smith, Jak Montague, Kira Bellamy, Roly Kelly, Sue Close, Sara Leat, Vanessa Loader.
Band: Joseph Binmore, Cathy Binmore, Bob Illes, David Jones, Steve Douglas.
Creative team: Jack Price (director and producer); Joseph Binmore (musical director); Katie Richards (choreographer); Pam Hunter (prompt); Ian Styles (stage manager); Adam Chudley, Dennis Freeth, Richard Seward, Kris Brakstad (stage crew); Ian Styles and Roly Kelly (props); Chris Walker (sound and lighting assistance); Sarah Leat and cast (costumes); Stuart Courtman and Rose Harvey (front of house); Helma Belbin and helpers); Rose Harvey, Sue Close, Jasmine Hussey, Jack Price (publicity); Archway Bookshop (box office); Wayne Asher (photos); Helma Belbin, Pam Cridge, Rose Harvey and Sue Close (rehearsal teas).