Review: Little Shop Of Horrors at Little Theatre Gateshead

Review: Little Shop Of Horrors at Little Theatre Gateshead

Little Shop of Horrors – Little Theatre, Gateshead

Caprian Theatre Company – 17th May 2023

Image Credit: One Imagery

The first thing I noticed about this rather sweet venue in Gateshead is that the auditorium has had a refurbishment since I was last there and it is all the better for it. It is a small venue but that adds to the charm of the place and it is nice to note that the bar prices are not excessive for a pre show tipples and to order your interval drinks. You always get a warm welcome from the staff at Little Theatre. 

Little Shop of Horrors tells the tale of Seymour Krelbourn who works in a very run down florist’s shop in the impoverished area of New York known as Skid Row. Prior to the action, he has discovered a new breed of plant which is he nurturing in the basement of Mr Mushnik’s Flower Shop unbeknownst to his employer. The new plant generates a turn in Seymour’s fortunes and those around him, but at a terrible cost. 

While the auditorium may have had a face lift, the technical infrastructure at the venue poses more than a few challenges for the creatives in bringing anything to life – let alone a full blown musical. Some of the issues can be alleviated with some thought in how it will be staged. The sound at the start and throughout the performance was a little muffled – it would be well advised to start the production in both acts with the house tabs open to help the band who are already struggling by being at the back of the stage and behind the static set. 

The principal cast took their parts very well. Seymour (Andrew Howe) was suitably nerdy as the florist’s assistant, and Lyndsey Kellegher reproduced an adorable likeness of Ellen Greene who originated the role off-Braodway and in the movie adaptation. Mr Mushnok (Peter Brack) brought a new take on his quite complicated character bringing out the humour with a genuine ease even if he did seem to struggle with the libretto and the lyrics of the songs at times.Orin Skivello DDS the dentist (Steven Nichol) brought a much lighter and comical character to that played by Steve Martin in the movie which offered something a little different.

The star of the show, as is only right, is the man eating plant, Audrey II, voiced with silky suaveness by Gareth Lilley. The three girls, Chiffon (Lisa Hopper), Ronette (Andrea Riley) and Crystal (Lisa Barnes) who act almost as narrators for the piece lacked gravitas and their feisty characters that I have seen in other productions did not come across as effectively. 

It is to be noted that tonight was opening night and I have no doubt that the production will become slicker and flow better as the week carries through until Saturday.

The direction and choreography, I felt lacked imagination and creativity to bring the story fully to life although in the opening and Skid Row numbers, the cast showed a lot more vitality and movement than in some of the other ensemble song.

The band led by David Johnson, was very good notwithstanding the issues with the sound. They would definitely benefit from more or some amplification. 

Caprian Theatre Company has produced an entertaining show this evening which was enjoyed by a good and appreciative audience.

Little Shop of Horrors runs at Little Theatre Gateshead until Saturday 20th May.

– Stephen Stokoe

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