Back at the end of January, Glendon’s theatre club, Lionheart Productions Coeur de Lion, put on a production of Little Shop of Horrors. I’m not typically the biggest fan of musicals, but LSOH was just the right combination of sick humour and great visuals to have me interested. (Also, I could finally be in on the joke when my half-dozen musical-loving friends yelling “FEED ME, SEYMOUR” at lunchtime.)
In a nutshell, LSOH is a horror comedy about two florists and a man-eating plant in the shady part of town. Putting aside the fact that a lot of the punchlines are literally punches (and the corresponding “a Nice Guy™ will save me” narrative attached to the female lead — this show was written in the 80s, based off a movie from the 60s, and it shows), I had fun with Lionheart’s production of the show, and here’s why.
First, the supporting cast were every bit as engaging as the mains. In fact, one of the people who captured my attention the most was Jamie Salloum, who played a variety of minor characters with such hellbent conviction that he got a laugh out of me every time.
Second, holy mother of fly traps, the PLANT. I’d heard two things about the character of Audrey II: it’s decidedly masculine, with its deep tenor voice, and it is also a puppet. A big, complex, expensive puppet. Productions of LSOH are not generally done without the puppet — so when the folks at Lionheart came up with the solution they came up with, and it worked, it was a great victory. Instead of using puppetry, Audrey II was comprised of roughly 4-5 members of the cast, all done up to look like the creeping tendrils of the deadly plant.
They could not have done this without the demanding presence and powerful voice of Caitlyn Smith, who played the role of Audrey II. The song “Feed Me” in particular was a treat, with arguably the two strongest voices in the cast battling it out while Allison Holden performed some impressive acrobatics in complement. Props go to the costume designer for such a great look on the parts of the plant too — every time I looked at that thing I got the heebie-jeebies.
I would say in general that the acting was better than the singing: there were a couple flubbed harmonies and a couple flat notes, but the enthusiasm that everyone brought to their roles made for an enjoyable experience nonetheless. There were some real tongue-twisters hidden in those lyrics that everyone managed to land, and Jordan Stal, cast as the depraved dentist Orin, had a particularly great Evil Laugh™ on hand.
All in all, Lionheart’s production of Little Shop of Horrors didn’t leave me shaken or shaking with laughter, but it was fun and full of that grim sense of humour I enjoy so much — right down to their chosen ending (did you know there were two?). Read the script, give the soundtrack a listen, and remember: don’t feed the plants!