Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires


Regional Reviews by Zander Opper

Little Shop of Horrors
Music Theatre of Connecticut

Also see Zander's review of The Importance of Being Earnest


Anthony DiCostanzo and Elissa DeMaria
Music Theatre of Connecticut's production of the Howard Ashman/Alan Menken smash musical Little Shop of Horrors is altogether excellent and a great deal of fun. On the relatively tiny stage at Music Theatre of Connecticut, director Kevin Connors, with the happy assistance of choreographer Steven Midura, has done wonders staging this musical, which is a real pleasure from beginning to end. Any production of Little Shop of Horrors has to stand up to the wonderful 1986 movie version and the indelible performance of Ellen Greene, who also played Audrey in original Off-Broadway cast. I am delighted to report that the current revival manages to get out from under the shadow of the film, making one almost see the show with new eyes. From the entirely appropriate (and inventive) set design by David Heuvelman to Diane Vanderkroef's wonderful costumes, just about everything feels newly minted. Add a terrific cast and a rocking band, and this Little Shop of Horrors proves to be a winner.

This Little Shop of Horrors comes up aces in just about every department. As Audrey, Elissa DeMaria is splendid. She doesn't try to replicate Ellen Greene but offers her own take on the role. With the requisite bleach blonde wig and tight fitting dresses, she is both amusing and touching. The real testament to her excellence is that she makes Audrey's beautiful solo, "Somewhere That's Green," sound completely new, as if it is being sung for the first time. For that reason alone, Elissa DeMaria makes this Little Shop of Horrors worth seeing. She is a performer to watch.

The charming Anthony DiCostanzo is pretty great as Seymour and gives a fresh take to his character as well. The trio of Inuka Ivaska, Kristian Espiritu, and Gabrielle Lee as, respectively, Chiffon, Crystal, and Ronette, sizzle every time they are come onstage and their harmonizing is dazzling. Lou Ursone is just about perfect as flower shop owner Mr. Mushnik and Tony Lawson is extremely funny in a variety of roles, especially as Audrey's dentist boyfriend Orin. Finally, Peter McClung does a wonderful job providing the voice of the plant, Audrey II.

That hungry plant gets bigger and bigger in every scene, and is a real marvel, superbly designed by Erin Flanagan Lind and Corey T. Lind and operated by puppeteer Will Strong (who gets a curtain call of his own). In addition, the Howard Ashman/Alan Menken score sounds just dandy as sung by this cast, with musical director Thomas Martin Conroy leading the terrific offstage orchestra perfectly.

All in all, Music Theatre of Connecticut's Little Shop of Horrors gets just about everything right and proves to be a tuneful, funny, and fittingly sinister theatrical experience. Even if you are familiar with the film version and the songs, you will find this production a great deal of fun and a fresh look at the material. It's a real treat and deserves to be seen.

Little Shop of Horrors continues performances at Music Theatre of Connecticut in Norwalk, CT through May 3, 2015. For tickets, please visit www.musictheatreofct.com or call (203) 454-3883.


Photo: Joe Landry

- Zander Opper


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