September 23, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 14  

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Little Shop bites... in a good way, of course

By Nicole Laidler
Gazette Staff

Little Shop of Horrors

Starring: Duncan Stewart, Cara Hunter and Scott Lancastle
Directed by: Valerie Moore

The Grand Theatre is kicking off its 2003/04 season with a rock-musical that bites. Little Shop of Horrors played to a packed house on Friday night, proving Londoners don't have to travel to Toronto or New York to see first-rate musical theatre.

The show is equal parts comic-book science fiction, sentimental humour, doo-wop musical tribute and Faustian legend. It tells the story of Seymour, a down-and-out florist who lives and works at Mushnick's Skid Row Flower Shop. His life-long bad luck changes with the sudden appearance of a mysterious plant, the Audrey II. What looks like an innocent flytrap turns out to be a bloodsucking botanical nightmare and that's where the fun and horror begins.

Duncan Stewart plays the nerdy Seymour, who is simply unable to resist the temptations fate offers him. What's a little blood when the rewards are fame, fortune and the girl of his dreams, Audrey, the ditzy blonde shop assistant? Actress Cara Hunter gives this girl-with-a-past just the right amount of sweetness to be lovable. Hunter's rendition of "Somewhere That's Green," Audrey's expression of her dreams for a matchbox house with a genuine chain-link fence, is truly moving.

Scott Lancastle plays Audrey's semi-sadistic, motorcycle-riding boyfriend to Elvis-like comic perfection. A bit more swivel in his hips would make the illusion complete. Mr. Mushnik, played by Nicholas Rice and the '60s girl-group chorus, played by Rhonda Roberts, Amber Cunningham and Tiffany Deriveau round out the multi-talented cast.

The plant is the real star of the production. Audrey II is a puppet with personality, brought to life by singer Karim Morgan and puppeteer Mike Petersen. Tooey, as the plant is affectionately called, begins life on a windowsill, but grows into a demanding, willful monster right in front of the audience's eyes. By the time Audrey II sings "Git It (Feed Me)," it has grown large enough to take over most of the shop.

Little Shop of Horrors began life as a low-budget cult movie in 1960. Composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman turned it into an off-Broadway hit in 1982. Hollywood remade it into a film in 1986, starring Rick Moranis and Steve Martin. But don't let Hollywood's happy ending fool you - the stage production's finale is quite different. Don't feed the plants!

Little Shop of Horrors plays at the Grand Theatre until Oct. 5. Tickets start at $15. Show times are Tuesday to Thursday, 7.30 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m.; matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. and Wednesdays at 1 p.m. For more info or to purchase tickets, call 672-8800 or 1-800-265-1593.




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