Highly Recommended **** Back in the 1960’s, there was a dark comedy horror film about a plant that is about to take over the world. This film was the basis for the doo-wop musical, “Little Shop of Horrors”, now on the stage at the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook. Over the years, many productions of this fun little show have graced our stages, but for the most part, on smaller stages, and far more intimate. Seeing it larger than life on the Drury Lane stage was a rare and special experience. The book by Howard Ashman tells us the story of a flower shop that is on skid row , its owner, Mr. Mushnik ( Ron E. Rains, stepping away from his usual roles to show his true dexterity is a riot) and his workers. His helper is Seymour ( a breakout role for Will Lidke), a young man who he took in as a youth, nerdy and not too bright and his clerk, the adorable Audry (the lovely Kelly Felthous) a beauty who is looking for love in all the wrong places.
It turns out that Seymour bought a small plant at the yard that he has been nurturing. He names it Audrey II in honor of the woman he adores and loves. One even wonders why the shop even exists, as Skid Row is not exactly filled with customers purchasing flowers and plants. But the story needs to take place in the most unlikely place, with a female chorus ( like the Supremes) to help guide us through. These three ladies are terrific. They are Chiffon ( Melanie Loren), Crystal (Candace C. Edwards- what a set of pipes) and Ronnette (Melanie Brezill). These three could easily put on “Dream Girls”. There is one more actor to help make this story come to life. Steven Strafford plays a multitude of roles , male and female, bum and high-brow and does so with great speed. He also plays the bad boyfriend, dentist Orin Scrivello. Bravo.
The story is of Seymour being offered an opportunity to get the girl of his dreams, Mushnik, to be the father he never had, success and happiness. All of this is from a plant that needs something just a bit unusual in the way of plant food. The music is very R & B and this show will certainly keep you at a high interest level. Many of you know that this has become a “cult-type” of play with a following, so be prepared for audience members to shout and shriek at specific numbers. The puppeteer for “Little Shop of Horrors” is Matthew Stitz and the voice of Audrey II, the incredible ( and need I say perfect)Lorenzo Rush , Jr.
Smoothly directed and choreographed by Scott Calcagno, the show grabs you in the first few minutes and locks you in for the entire two hours ( including 15 minute intermission). Kevin Depinet’s flower shop is divine and very realistic as is his Skid Row. Lynda Myers does great costumes of the period and some extreme numbers for the ladies ( take that Supremes). The sound ( Ray Nardelli) and lighting ( Ryan O’Gara) along with the props (Cassie Schillo) are all perfect as are the musicians under the leadership of Chris Sargent at the Keyboard. As usual, the music direction is handled to perfection by Roberta Duchak. The show is suggested for ages 13 and up due to some strong language and a situation or two.
“Little Shop of Horrors” will continue at Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook thru October 28th with performances as follows:
Thursdays 1:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Fridays 8 p.m.
Saturdays 5 and 8:30 p.m.
Sundays 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Call 1-630-530-0111 or visit www.DruryLaneTheatre.com
The theater is located at 100 Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace ( just north of the Oakbrook Center)
Plenty of free parking