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Center Stage: ‘Little Shop Of Horrors’ is a stand up and cheer winner

By Staff | May 28, 2019

Marsha Wagner

The Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre’s latest 198th production, “Little Shop Of Horrors,” has everything going for it – a multi-talented cast, creative team, and a super team of puppeteers that make this show a stand up and cheer winner from beginning to end.

“Little Shop Of Horrors” is currently killing the Broadway Palm audiences with laughter just like it did when I saw this favorite show of mine more than 30 years ago, Off Broadway in New York City.

This Howard Ashman (book and lyrics,) Alan Menken (music) show may not be particularly deep or meaningful, but by golly it sure is a funny, joyful, campy poke at the 1950s and ’60s and the sci-fi “B” movie box office hits of that time (think “The Thing,” “Godzilla” and “The Creature From The Black Lagoon.”)

Remember?

Anyhow it’s the classic boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl has a mean boyfriend, whom she can’t drop, boy battles, strange man-eating plant to win girl story.

This blend of camp sci-fi weirdness is played against a ’50s rock ‘n’ roll, early Motown, doo-wop score, is as big a hit as it was when it played Off Broadway in 1982.

“Little Shop Of Horrors” follows the plight of Seymour (which Richie Dupkin deliciously played opening night instead of the program listed Will Callahan). The character of Seymour is a nerdy-looking assistant at Muchnik’s Skid Row Florists; a run down, failing flower shop owned by Mr. Muchnik (irascibly played to perfection by charming Broadway Palm alumni Rob Summers.) Meanwhile, Seymour is pining after his sweet, slightly trashy, ditsy though cute and adorable co-worker Audrey (wonderfully performed by Erica Claire, playing her “dream role”).

Seymour is too weak or shy to do anything about his big romance, until his discovery of a strange, exotic fly-trap kind of plant, which injects new life into this shy guy. But there is a problem, this plant lives on human flesh and blood. Oops! Seymour strikes a strange “Faust like” bargain with this exotic plant. Seymour trades in his humanity for fame, fortune and love; and we all know how that ends. But, here’s this show’s kicker, this tall tale is told or rather sung by a trio of Motown Greek chorus songbirds. And what a gifted songbird trio that is, headed up by Cantrella Canady as Crystal, Victoria Morris as Chiffon and Tempestt Perrin as Ronnette. These ladies not only knock it out of the park singing wise they look good like Motown singers used to could. This trio majestically belt out Motown’s best sounds and provide energy for every scene they appear in.

Far out, ladies!

Choreographer/director Amy Marie McCleary is once again at the top of her game, showing us what a talent she brings to everything she does, but this time she also scored high marks in the casting of this show; especially in her use of funny man, singer extraordinaire, actor, comic, all around talent Victor Legarreta.

I could devote an entire page to singing the praises of this talented performer. But suffice it to say just go see “Little Shop Of Horrors,” and be prepared to be wowed by Legarreta!

Furthermore, McCleary’s remarkable casting also includes Jayar Garcia as both the voice and the puppetry of Audrey the Plant. Garcia’s vocals and puppetry are impressive, making Audrey the plant, seem funny as well sci-fi weird and scary. By the way, kudos to all who perform unseen by the audience inside of the Audrey plant/puppet.

Bottom line, the catchy ’60s score which mixes rock ‘n’ roll, early MoTown, Elvis, doo-wop which the entire cast sings brilliantly, plus the outstanding direction, choreography by McCleary, fine set design – Evan Adamson, puppets – Martin P. Robinson. All contribute to making this show an evening of deliciously, macabre and entertaining live theater. Just remember – don’t feed the plants!

So now boogie on over to the phone and call the box office at 239-278-4422. Do it now since “Little Shop Of Horrors” folds its petals on June 12. Remind ’em when you call Marsha sent you!