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Run to see ‘Little Shop of Horrors’

Posted: September 29th, 2017 | Arts & Entertainment, Theater Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Jean Lowerison | Theater Review

Owning a flower shop on Skid Row is probably not high on anyone’s list of get-rich-quick schemes, and Mr. Mushnik, after enough years of near-starvation, is announcing the closure of his Skid Row Florists.

(l to r) Connor Boyd, who plays horticulturist Seymour, with Audrey II in “Little House of Horrors” (Photo by Ken Jacques)

But Mushnik’s two employees have another idea. Nerdy clerk Seymour and pretty salesgirl Audrey suggest that putting a new, interesting plant in the front window might bring in potential customers. And it so happens that amateur botanist Seymour picked up a most intriguing variation of a Venus flytrap during a solar eclipse. He’s named it Audrey II.

Sure enough, Audrey II does the trick, customers flock in, and soon the media want Seymour for interviews.

The camp horror favorite “Little Shop of Horrors” is back, in a fine — and fun — production through Oct. 15 at Coronado Playhouse, wonderfully directed and choreographed by Shirley Johnston.

Seymour is sweet on Audrey, but she is hanging out with a “semi-sadist” dentist named Orin who gives her nothing but verbal abuse and black eyes.

(l to r) Seymour, played by Connor Boyd, longs for his coworker Audrey, played by Dani Leandra (Photo by Ken Jacques)

Mushnik is demanding that Seymour nurse their new star — the anemic-looking Audrey II — back to health. Seymour tries everything, but when he sings “What do you want from me, blood?” Audrey II smiles (if that’s quite the word).

Yep, Audrey II craves blood. Human blood. A few drops from Seymour after pricking his finger on a rose thorn perks her right up and sets up the rest of the plot — and the play’s most famous line: “Feed me!”

(l to r) Steven Jensen as Mushnik, owner of Skid Row Florists, and Connor Boyd as Seymour, the horticulturist who helps turn the business around (Photo by Ken Jacques)

With music by Alan Menken, book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, this show is a total hoot.

This production gives it all the camp it deserves, including a groovy doo-wop trio of Brooke Henderson, Myranda Young and Stephanie Nesbitt that does both stand-alone and backup numbers.

Steven Jensen, Connor Boyd and Dani Leandra head the cast as Mushnik, Seymour and Audrey, and a better trio is difficult to imagine.

Boyd is charming and funny as the skinny, bespectacled Seymour, trying to figure out how to get out of his unwanted job as procurer for the insatiable plant that just keeps growing and getting hungrier.

And kudos to puppeteer Joe Fitzpatrick, who taught the actors how to be Audrey II.

Jensen is an ideal foil for Seymour as Mushnik, who can’t believe this clumsy kid solved his financial problems so easily.

Dani Leandra — perfect as Audrey, the girl with the big chest and tiny self-esteem — will break your heart with her settling-down ballad “Somewhere That’s Green.”

But the character you won’t forget is Edgar Diaz-Gutierrez’s spectacularly sadistic dentist and all-around awful person Orin. He also has a horrifyingly wondrous laugh that inspires both giggles and shivers.

Kudos also to conductor/pianist Kirk Valles and the mighty trio that complete the band.

I suppose there are lessons to be learned here — about fame, greed and the desire for recognition — but they’re couched in a score with such crazy-but-fascinating characters that you may not even notice them.

Give yourself a break and visit Mushnik’s soon.

—Jean Lowerison is a long-standing member of the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle and can be reached at infodame@cox.net.

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