WDEL Blog: Delaware Theater Spotlight

Little Shop of Horrors at the Wilmington Drama League

Little Shop of Horrors is a story that has been around for years. From the original non-musical 1960 film, the staged musical, and finally the 1986 musical movie starring Rick Moranis, even a short-lived Saturday morning cartoon, this show has taken on a lot of variations. If you have seen the musical movie that many are familiar with, you will be surprised about a few things in the Wilmington Drama League's production of Little Shop of Horrors.

The story is essentially the same, guy meets plant. Plant has an unusual diet; hilarity and horror ensue. Director Ashley Wright has tackled this project beautifully, allowing the campiness of Little Shop of Horrors to stand on its own. So often, productions of this musical will over play a lot of the farcical elements of Little Shop. It's about a man-eating plant. This show does not need any help with ridiculousness. The Wilmington Drama League's production becomes less about this enormous Venus fly-trap like plant in the store, and more about the love story between awkward, nerdy Seymour Krelborn and naïve, meek Audrey.

I think it's important to note that Rebekah Weagraff's Audrey is not a bad Ellen Greene impersonation. She really owns the character and makes it her own. Weagraff's Audrey is softer, and honestly it makes you root for her more. That isn't to say that Weagraff's singing voice is soft. She might be tiny, but she has a pretty big voice. Suddenly Seymour with Audrey and Jason Tokarski's Seymour is their best moment on stage together.

It looks like Jason Tokarski might become the Wilmington Drama League's resident puppetry operator, since he was last on stage as Princeton in Avenue Q. At one point, Seymour is holding the mysterious plant, Audrey II, before she grows to epic proportions. I overheard quite a few audience members wondering how the plant moved when Seymour was holding it. That's quite a testament to his puppetry skills. Tokarski is the ever-lovable geek as Seymour. He was born to play this role. And like Rebekah Weagraff, Tokarski makes Seymour unique to him, and it's very refreshing to watch.

One of the main changes from the film most people are familiar with and the stage musical occurs with the other characters in the show. In the Wilmington Drama League's production, both Mushnik and the plant Audrey II are played by women, roles that are typically male. When Shelli Haynes Ezold is on stage as Mrs. Mushnik, you forget that this role is supposed to be a man. The same can be said for Genevieve Van-Catledge as Audrey II; Andrew Mauro who operates Audrey II on stage and Van-Catledge have a great synchronization. If you didn't know any better, you would think that the Audrey II was really alive. Troy Sheaffer probably has the hardest part in the show. He is mainly the sadistic, abusive boyfriend of Audrey, Orin Scrivello, DDS, but Sheaffer plays the remainder of the parts in the show. It's what makes "The Meek Shall Inherit," one of the most fun numbers in the show.

There are so many wonderful aspects about this production of Little Shop of Horrors, but the Urchins are what really make this show great. Crystal (Kristin Romero Sheehan), Chiffon (Taleah Kennedy), and Ronnette (Morgan Wright) have somehow figured out how to be three distinct characters and one character all at the same time. The Urchins act as the Greek chorus for the audience—they are telling the story of Seymour and the Audreys in his life, and it's when they are playing the part of storyteller that they are one voice. They are in perfect harmony with one another, but when they interact with the other characters, the Urchins become less of a unit and are instead individuals with very distinct personalities.

Overall, the Wilmington Drama League has a really solid production of Little Shop of Horrors Whether you've seen the film 100 times, or you've never heard of Little Shop of Horrors, you should see this production. It's silly, a bit disturbing, and a lot of fun. Little Shop of Horrors runs Thursday, June 19 through Sunday, June 22. For tickets, call 302-764-1172 or visit http://www.wilmingtondramaleague.org.

Posted at 10:40am on June 17, 2014 by Gina Poletti

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