Theatre Review: Little Shop of Horrors at Manchester Palace Theatre
- NQ's Jack Wright reviews the cult classic, Little Shop of Horrors
- The musical sci-fi comedy has been running in various forms since 1968
The 1986 sci-fi musical film caused frenzy amongst theatregoers and film buffs alike, but it is this breath-taking stage production at The Palace Theatre that really struck a chord with me.
The plot surrounds a timid boy named Seymour – played by Sam Lupton (Avenue Q, Wicked) – working at a florist shop on the notorious Skid Row, who unintentionally breeds a man-eating plant from a distant plant.
Yes – you did read that right.
Seymour pines for the leading lady Audrey – Stephanie Clift (Mammia Mia!) – so much so, he names the plant Audrey 2. Voiced by Josh Wilmott, the soulfully murderous plant is electrifying to watch and asserts a voice to match.
Clift’s Audrey is kooky and ditzy yet passionately exposed. She dreams of moving out of Skid Row to “Somewhere that’s green”.
Starring X-Factor veteran Rhydian, Audrey has a whirlwind romance with a sadistic dentist before realising her true love is, in fact, the young carnivorous-plant breeder.
But all is not as cliché theatre as it seems, the story takes a dark turn as the plant begins devouring its visitors and cunningly framing Seymour along the way.
With the newfound fame and deadly reputation of the killer flytrap, Seymour sees no way out other than to exterminate him and end the reign of terror. Something tells me Weedol won’t solve this one.
Seymour’s solution doesn’t exactly go to plan and the rest is almost too farcical to describe.
Produced by Sell A Door Theatre Company, the show seemingly loaned a taste of the West End to Manchester for a night.
Having such a small cast is usually detrimental to a show’s success – not in this case. To my admiration, the cast hoodwinked the audience by making it seem like an army of performers were driving this theatrical tank to victory.
Still, the pressure was certainly sky high for them.
This version of Little Shop of Horrors had size 15 character shoes to fill.
An immensely popular version of the hit musical was enjoyed by many in early 2015 at Royal Exchange Theatre. Their stage boasts a 360-degree visual and this only aided the modernity of the precedent-setting production that ran for nearly 3 months.
Contrarily, the version that ran at the Palace Theatre never had these obstacles which ultimately led to the production team favouring been-there-done-that direction rather than innovative and fresh choreography craved by audiences.
That being said, the sassy trio provided theatregoers with moments to live for.
The perfectly cast makeshift girl band narrated the entire show whilst proving themselves to be harmoniously exceptional vocalists.
Did I already mention sassy?
Getting the bums-on-seats factor was Rhydian – though, being questionably labelled as the “joke act” on the popular ITV contest did not overshadow his undeniable vocal flair.
His acting was tolerable and presence on stage no better, but to claim he was not a favourite with the crowd would be more foolish than Seymour’s attempt at executing Audrey 2.
Touring the country with quality adaptations of Jekyll and Hyde and Jersey Boys in the past, theatre enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting the company’s next venture: Flashdance The Musical.
Keep your eyes pealed!