The giant plant is the centerpiece of Skylight’s ‘Little Shop of Horrors’
Never work with children or animals, says the saying attributed to WC Fields. If the curious had seen the Skylight Music Theater production of “Little Shop of Horrors” on Friday night, he surely would have added plants to his no-no list.
In an era where CGI and virtual reality have made seamless illusions almost mundane, play A for the power of live theater is Audrey II, the carnivorous plant puppet that grows in “Little Shop.”
From his unexpected first fuss in his tiniest incarnation to his villainous roaring laugh at the end, this spotty green mummy-eater has garnered public attention. Give a helping hand to Lisa Schlenker, the puppet’s creative director; Gabriella Ashlin, his puppeteer; and Aaron Reese Boseman, his catchy bass voice.
FOLLOWING:Kevin James Sievert Brings Sweet Voice to Skylight Music Theater “Little Shop of Horrors”
This Alan Menken-Howard Ashman musical mixes comedy and horror through a score inspired by pre-Beatles rock, doo-wop and motownish sounds. The girl trio of Kristen Jeter, Brandite Reed and Raven Dockery serve as the fiery Greek choir throughout the show.
“Little Shop” draws its endearing, scruffy DNA from a low budget Roger Corman film. Seymour (Kevin James Sievert), attendant at Nebbishy’s flower shop, looks after his coworker Audrey (Ashley Oviedo) while working in virtual bondage for owner Mushnik (David Flores). A mysterious plant that Seymour grows saves the store from bankruptcy after discovering that it feeds on blood. Hilarity and chaos ensue.
While Michael Unger is in his second season as artistic director of Skylight, thanks to the COVID-19 furshlugginer pandemic, this is the first live-action production he is directing here. Under Unger’s green thumb, his leads imbue their characters with warmth.
Sievert is a good singer, a good comedian and so likeable that when he admits to Audrey that he did terrible things, you just want to pat him on the head and forgive him (even if he did things. terrible!). Oviedo, a powerful singer, adds the note of grace of a Noo Yawk accent which borders on Penny Marshall’s Myrna in “The Odd Couple”.
Even Flores seems more besieged than Mushnik’s nasty job can be. (Bonus: Flores and Sievert’s “Mushnik and Son” dance is awesome. Lisa Shriver choreographed the many dance moves in the show.)
In 2021, Unger and Skylight tackle two darker elements that were likely taken for granted when this musical premiered in 1982. Audrey was beaten (mostly off stage) by her abusive dentist boyfriend; During his post-curtain speech, Oviedo encourages members of the public to donate to the Sojourner Family Peace Center, which provides domestic violence prevention and response services. (Skylight recommends this show for ages 8 and up; if you’re bringing a preteen, you need to be ready for a conversation on this topic.)
Additionally, a propeller pistol appears in the show, but Skylight is quick to note that it doesn’t work and can’t fire. So they guarantee that it can’t hurt anyone. But they can’t vouch for the ferns in your office …
If you are going to
The Skylight Music Theater presents “Little Shop of Horrors” through January 2 at the Broadway Theater Center, 158 N. Broadway. Proof of vaccination or recent negative COVID-19 test required. Masks required. For tickets and information visit skylightmusictheatre.org or call (414) 291-7800.