Olney Theatre Center Little Shop of HorrorsBy Laura & Mike Clark • Aug 9th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
Olney Theatre Center
Olney Mainstage, Olney, MD
Through August 26th
2:00 with one intermission
Reviewed August 4th, 2012
Little Shop of Horrors is a musical with book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken. A flower shop on Skid Row is about to close for good when store clerk Seymour produces his strange and mysterious plant that he received during the last solar eclipse. The strange and interesting plant sets off a chain of events which ultimately lead to total world domination! This sci-fi comedy takes place with some great music.
Certain shows seem to be done to death (pardon the pun), and Little Shop of Horrors is certainly on that list. But we were able to take our twelve-year-old nephew to the show, and it was fun to hear his reactions to the amazing things happening in front of us, things that unfortunately we take for granted since the surprise is long gone for us. A plant that has a mind of its own? A plant that grows significantly larger in each scene? An actor playing three different characters in one scene, with very different costumes? A plant that can talk, sing, and chase the girls? Adults doing silly dances? Our nephew had a grand time, all of his expectations were met and exceeded by Olney’s Little Shop of Horrors.
Audrey played by Carolyn Agan was sweet as she portrayed the good girl dating the extremely wrong boy, but thinking she did not deserve any better. She had a strong voice which she really poured out in the song “Suddenly Seymour” in Act 2. Agan and James Gardiner (Seymour) started out their relationship somewhat awkwardly. Gardiner did have some great facial expressions throughout the evening. Gardiner made us feel his guilt over the decisions he made. Their awkward relationship was not helped by his guilt over having to make human sacrifices to a flesh-eating plant and Audrey’s confusion and sorrow over losing her boyfriend, sadist though he was. Ethan Watermeier played a convincing florist shop owner Mr. Mushnik. There was conviction in his movements and heart as he tried to counsel his two employees Audrey and Seymour. Bobby Smith as Orin (and others) gave a sensational performance. From the beginning he was funny and had a truly addictive personality.
Chiffon (Kara-Tameika Watkins), Crystal (Shaunte Tabb) and Ronnette (Leayne C. Freeman) made a solid trio as the do-wop girls for the story. Each had their own personality and the energy they put not only into the choreography, but their interactions with the rest of the cast. They were concerned for Audrey, willing to run errands for Mushnik, supportive of Seymour, and ready to take out Orin.
And lastly the Audrey II. What to say, what to say…DON’T FEED THE PLANT!!! Puppeteers Eric Brooks and Elliott Davis worked very hard as did the voice of Audrey II Stephawn Stephens to make the plants, both little and big seem to take on a personality all their own. And they were successful at making the puppet a unique character, made up of much more than the puppet.
Set Designer James Fouchard made good use of the Olney space which began as a street on Skid Row, but then grew as the thirst for blood from the Audrey II also grew. The set rotations were smooth. As a whole only some minor sound and lighting glitches were observed. Occasionally the actors could not find their light quickly enough so were in shadows when on stage. Yet these minor things did not detract from a truly fun, well-performed opening night production. An extremely responsive audience helped to keep the energy and excitement alive.
From the Director
The night I saw the original production of Little Shop of Horrors was one of the great theater-going nights of my life-and not just because it combined two of my favorite entertainment genres, musical comedy and B-movie horror. The performances were great and Alan Menken’s tunes were catchy and period-perfect. But, for me, the hero of the evening was Howard Ashman, Little Shop Lyricist, librettist, and original director. His wit and craft radiated through every aspect of his work and elevated the cheesy source material in a spectacular way. (When you hear “Shang-a-Lang” rhymed with “Sturm and drang” in the opening number, you know you’re in the hands of a seriously smart and playful lyricist.) Perhaps Ashman’s most amazing achievement in Little Shop is how very funny and frightening and genuinely heartbreaking it can be – sometimes all at once. It’s my goal to give audiences her at Olney Center a production that captures the spirit of the show I fell in love with and delivers on all of its levels. I hope you enjoy it.
Mark Waldrop, Director
Photos by Stan Barouh
- Chiffon: Kara-Tameika Warkins
- Crystal: Shaunte Tabb
- Ronnette: Leayne C. Freeman
- Mushnik: Ethan Watermeier
- Audrey: Carolyn Agan
- Seymour: James Gardiner
- The Voice of Audrey II, Derelict: Stephawn Stephens
- Orin, Bernstein, Luce, Snip, and Everyone Else: Bobby Smith
- Ensemble: Tina Ghandchilar, Matthew Schleigh, Russell Sunday
- For all female roles: Tina Ghandchilar
- Mushnik and for the Voice of Audrey II: Russell Sunday
- For Seymour and Orin: Matthew Schleigh
- Dance Captain: Kara-Tameika Watkins
- Set Design: James Fouchard
- Costume Design: David Kaley
- Lighting Design: Charlie Morrison
- Sound Design: Jeffrey Dorfman
- Production Stage Manager: Renee E. Yancey
- Puppeteers: Eric Brooks & Elliott Davis
- Wig Design: Rob Greene & J. Jared Janas
- Production Manager: Renee E. Yancey
- Technical Director: Eric Knauss
- Company Manager: MacKenzie Douglas
- Costume Shop Manager: Jeanne Bland
- Musical Director/Conductor: Ross Scott Rawlings
- Director: Mark Waldrop
- Choreographer: Vince Pesce
- Artistic Director: Martin Platt
- Conductor: Ross Scott Rawlings
- Keyboard I: Ross Scott Rawlings
- Keyboard II: Aaron Broderick
- Guitar: Will Brumbach, Greg Land
- Bass: Frank Higgins
- Drums: Tom Harold
Disclaimer: Olney Theatre Center provided three complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/8410.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.