Phil Wong plays Seymour with an ironic mixture of a sensitive dopey nerd and a man with a mission.
By Camille Bounds
“Little Shop of Horrors” tells the story about Seymour, a nebbish amateur botanist who works in a failing Chinatown Flower Shop. A flytrap type plant from outer space takes up residence in the store and turns Seymour’s life into a confusing, uproarious mess.
Howard Ashman (book and lyrics) and Alan Menken (music) took the cult B-horror movie and created the musical that successfully played off-Broadway winning several awards. The story takes the audience on a crazy ride into an unsettling story that is campy and at times gory and grotesque. TheaterWorks’ production has been moved from Skid Row in New York to Chinatown in San Francisco. Songs like “Suddenly Seymour,” “Somewhere That’s Green,” and “Ya Never Know” creates the moods of the moment. Ashman and Menken went on to win Academy Awards for their work on The Little Mermaid and Beauty and The Beast.) The production is well cast
Sumi Yu as Audrey the really dumb blond with a big heart, plays the part flawlessly with the high-pitched screech of a banshee on a mission with an East Side New York accent. She delivers her lines and songs with such believability and poignancy that the audience feels for this ditsy babe and rolls with her character.
Phil Wong plays Seymour with an ironic mixture of a sensitive dopey nerd and a man with a mission. His interplay with the plant is well timed and interestingly humorous.
Katrina Lauren McGraw intimidates and melodically bellows with her brassy voice of Audrey II, the carnivorous house plant. Puppeteer Brandon Leland works Audrey II, who continues to grow throughout the show like all the zucchinis in the world planted at the same time. His timing with McGraw’s voice is well done and the audience finds they are really listening to the grotesque demanding shrub.
Director Jeffrey Lo moves the show at a brisk pace while moving scenes smoothly, keeping the show’s action tight. William Thomas Hodgson choreography is a delightful home run. The remainder of the small cast of nine are solid and fine.
Musical Director William Liberatore adds just the right ‘60s doo-wop touch with a small group in the pit making big music. Wen-Ling Liao lighting , Jeff Mockus’s sound and ChristopherFitzer’s scenic design are right on mark. It’s no small wonder with the many special cues that filtrate throughout this production.
“Little Shop Of Horrors” is a silly delightful bit of fun. You may not leave the theatre humming any of the tunes, but you will feel good and perhaps a little giddy. In these days of stress and the recent election harping, this well done “Little Shop of Horrors” will definitely take you away from it all for a few hours.
Camille Bounds is the theatre and arts reviewer for Morgan Hill Life and Gilroy Life newspapers.
“Little Shop Of Horrors”
Produced by TheaterWorks
Book and lyrics by Howard Ashman
Music by Alan Menken
Where: Lucy Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
Running time: two hours and ten minutes with one intermission
Through Dec. 24
Tickets: $30 -$35
For reservations and information visit www.theatreworks.org