Thursday, 8 October 2009

Little Shop Of Horrors Review, Alex Ferns, Clare Buckfield, Damian Humbley

Little Shop Of Horrors
Assembly Hall Theatre
Tunbridge Wells
6-10 October 2009
(performance seen 8th Oct)
Cast in appearance order:
Chiffon: Lara Martin
Crystal: Cathryn Davis
Ronette: Keisha Amponsa Banson
Mushnik: Kraig Thornber
Audrey: Clare Buckfield
Seymour: Damian Humbley
Orin Scrivello and everyone else: Alex Ferns
Audrey II (voice): Clive Rowe
Audrey II (manipulation): Brian Herring
Ensemble: Matthew Eames
Stepanie Fearon, Eugene McCoy
TV Presenter: Mike McShane

Little Shop Of Horrors - Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells

If it wasn't for Chris Jordan inserting a snippet from Little Shop of Horrors (LSOH) into Gotta Sing Gotta Dance at Eastbourne we' would never have even heard of this fabulous musical.
Little Shop Of Horrors eminates from a 1959 B-movie of the same name. The movie starred a young, Jack Nicholson.
Essentially it is the story of a financially struggling flower shop that finds salvation in the form of a unique truly living plant that needs blood - preferably human to survive. It brings the little shop international stardom.
The plant is obtained by the shy and unconfident employee Seymour. His life is set to change dramatically at the fame that comes his way as a result of being the only one who can can care for the talking botanical beast. Any more info would ruin the plot.
This musical should win an award for its set alone. It is magnificent. The recreation of seedy, eerie streets, the interior of Musnik's Flower Shop, the dental surgery and of course the impressively animated and huge Audrey II (the plant) - it really is a set to be proud of.
I loved every minute of this musical. It's a shame that yet again the audience was pathetically small (and actually on this night was mainly made up of foreign students) but that seems to be a sign of the times in this financial climate.
As for the cast well they are all wonderful.
Clare Buckfield ,who I will always remember for her terrific role in TV's2 Point 4 children, is always a pleasure to watch on the stage and equally a delight to meet (as is her identical twin sister Julie). The role of Audrey (note not the plant thats Audrey II) is absolutely perfect for her giving Clare the opportunity to make you laugh and demonstrate her super singing voice at the same time.
Damian Humbley plays the initially timid Seymour and is marvellous throughout as he struggles to find food for his growing green friend.
Clive Rowe - wow what a terrific powerful voice. It seems a shame that being the talking and singing plant he's not seen until the curtain-call. But he deservedly got an incredible cheer as did Brian Herring the (also unseen) animator of Audrey II.
You can't fault anybody in this show. Kraig Thornber is a great shopkeeper as Mushnik and Cathryn Davis ,playing Crystal, has a beautiful, powerful voice.
But there is one main character I haven't mentioned yet and that is Alex Ferns who plays bad boy Orin Scrivello and so many other characters.
We have seen Alex on stage before in the thriller And Then There Were None. He was a brilliant "bad boy" in that - in LSOH he is utterly incredible.
Little Shop Of Horrors - Damian Humbley, Clare Buckfield, Alex Ferns, Cathryn Davis, Clive Rowe
To be honest it is so hard to find the words to say just how impressive this multiple roleplaying is in this show that I don't think I'll bother. If you get the chance just see Alex for yourself in this show. I don't think anybody could fail to be impressed with what must be an extremely demanding role with a very long script and multiple costume changes - all delivered impeccably.
A health warning though for anybody that is already afraid of the dentist. Seeing how Alex plays the role of the mad dentist may just put you off all dental treatment for life!
I can't add any more to this apart from the fact that both myself and my wife loved this show and hope to see it again someday. An awesome set, a storyline that is very different from the norm, it's extremely funny, acted flawlessly and the music from the band let by musical director Richard Anderson is lively and first class.
It really does "tick all the right boxes".
5 out of 5 for Little Shop Of Horrors
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