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Monday, November 26, 2007

Suddenly Seeing More - Little Shop of Horrors - Review

Little Shop of Horrors - The Canadian Stage Company - Bluma Appel Theatre - St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts - Toronto
Music by Alan Menken, Book and Lyrics by Howard Ashman, Directed by Ted Dykstra

I went to see the CanStage production of Little Shop of Horrors and to be honest, I wasn't expecting that much since CanStage had a few bad years of lates (though their spring Rocky Horror Show that I missed got good reviews, as did their revised A Midsummers Night's Dream (which apparently they will revive next summer due to popularity)) and I actually didn't really love Little Shop of Horrors to begin with. The last time I saw it (on Broadway, which I saw because Hunter Foster (Urinetown) and Kerry Butler (Xanadu) were in it, though now looking back, tragically miscast), I thought it was cute, meh, okay, but not memorable or anything and another "classic" that I thought was a bit overated (but no, I've never seen the movie either although I've seen clips and stuff over the years).

So it was with great delight that I walked out of the Bluma Appel theatre in such love and delight, with the major roles perfectly cast (if not a bit too much like the movie I never saw) and I finally "got it", and the everything seemed to make much more sense (not that there is too much sense to make out of, but you get my drift).


Ron Pederson (Mad TV) was absolutely lovable and nerdy in the right way as our affable hero Seymour. His voice, while not superstar singer, was still pretty great, but his likable charms shined brightly without detracting from the bumbling character of Seymour.

Patricia Zentilli, who was terrific in Toronto's Urinetown, channels Pushing Daisies' Ellen Greene (who played Audrey in the movie version of Little Shop) down to every inflection and the flighty voice and while it may be an unoriginal interpretation, it works, and works well, so how can you fault her?

Sheldon Davis plays a cartoony Mushnik which one of my friends didn't like, but I didn't mind it. We were watching a musical about a talking blood sucking plant. The cartoon character wasn't such a big deal for me.

What was EXTREMELY cartoony, taken to the next Steve Martin level, was Rejean Cournoyer who hilarious played a multitude of characters, including Orin, the evil dentist/boyfriend of Audrey's who becomes Seymour's first victim (or really, Audrey II). We aren't talking subtle here but it was hilarious every moment Cournoyer was on the stage so again, when there's a talking plant on stage, subtlety is not something I'm exactly expecting.

The Canadian Stage Company's Little Shop of Horrors runs until Dec. 15th 2007. They have a good $20 deal for everybody for every show that can be reserved ahead of time (first 3 rows in Orch. or Row D and up in the Mezz, but since it's not a huge theatre, one of the smaller "big houses" in Toronto, every seat is pretty decent). There are currently 2 video clips available on their site.

Here are more of their promo pictures below:

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