Regional Reviews: Albuquerque
Little Shop of Horrors
Most people know the basic story. A carnivorous plant comes to earth from outer space with plans to take over the world, and it looks like it will succeed, by getting humans to do its dirty work for it. It's only a plant, but a pretty good judge of human psychology nonetheless.
This 1982 musical, with book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken (both of whom also did several Disney movies, in a real 180), is darker than the 1986 film. So if all you know is the movie, you owe it to yourself to see the stage version. Black it may be, with an unsettling ending, but it's still hilarious.
This production is top-notch in every respect. For the space they had to work with, Vernon Poitras, Dean Squibb, and the construction crew have created an unbelievable set. Props by Nina Dorrance and costumes by Lorri Oliver are just right. (I think Lorri also gets credit for creating the world's worst comb-over.)
All of the performers, seen and unseen, are wonderful. Tim MacAlpine is a perfect Seymour, awkward but not so nerdy as to make him a caricature. Phil Shortell (with that comb-over from hell) is most enjoyable as Mr. Mushnik, hardly what you would expect after seeing him in Arthur Miller last year. Jessica Osbourne as Audrey does a really fun accent, and delivers one "oh my god" in a pipsqueak voice that's just hysterical.
A real find is newcomer Bryan Lambe, who is given eight roles, including the dentist Orin Scrivello (I love that name), and plays them all with gusto. The Phil Spector-ish trio of singers (Crystal, Chiffon and Ronnette) are Hannah Guzman, Sandra Williams, and Klarisa Thornton, all doing a great job.
There is a fine-sounding live band of five (whom we unfortunately never get to see) led by Norm Fletcher. Gene Corbin does the terrific voice for Audrey II, the plant, and Michelle Gammill is the puppeteer who makes the ever-enlarging Audrey II come to life so convincingly. Really, congratulations to all.
Vernon Poitras directs with great ingenuity and verve. He says that he's been waiting to direct this show for years. I'm glad he finally got to do it in a theater as intimate as the Aux Dog. He deserves a full house for every performance.
Little Shop of Horrors, a musical by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, based on a 1960 Roger Corman movie written by Charles Griffith, is a co-production of the Enchanted Rose Theatre and Aux Dog Theater Nob Hill. Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 2:00. Runs through February 2, 2014. Ticket and performance information at auxdog.com or 505-254-7716.