Archikulture Digest

Little Shop of Horrors

Orlando Shakespear Festival at Lake Eola

Book & Lyrics by Howard Ashman

Music by Alan Menken

Directed by Steve MacKinnon Music Direction by Josh Ceballos

Starring Ricky Cona, Lillie Eliza Thomas, AC Jenkins, and Steve Purnick

This is the most fabulous Audrey Two I’ve ever seen. Let me set the stage, as it were: It’s a drizzly evening downtown, and there’s a loud hip-hop bar blasting out the pre-show music. Soon the hip-hop transitions into the doo-wop based show tunes and we meet the employees of Mushnik’s Skid Row Florist shop. Mushnik (Purnikc) hasn’t sold a daisy in weeks, but his assistant Seymore (Cona) picked up an unusual flower for a a buck 95 at the flower wholesale market. He names it Audrey 2 after his girl friend, but the plant is fading fast. An accidental cut on his thumb shows the way to heal this carnivorous plant. Audry is great marketing, and soon the show is swinging. Fame strikes hard, and The Rose Bowl even asks Mushnik’s to provide all the flowers for its next parade. Only in musical theater do things fly this fast. but things get complicated fast, and the nitrous oxide fueled sadist Doctor Orin Scrivello (T. Robby Pigott) is the first to go on the menu. He was mean to Seymore’s girl friend and we never really liked him anyway. As Audrey 2 grows in size and marketing clout, the world closes in on Seymore and Audrey 1 even as the bodies pile up. But this is musical theater and the cast sings there way out of trouble with hits like “Suddenly Seymore” and “Supper Time.”

The Lake Eola bandshell received a complete work over since the recent production of “Midsummer Nights’ Dream.” There’s a New Wave look to the set, all bright colors and upbeat platforms. Cona’s Seymore is the ultimate nebbish, and even when he gets a girlfriend and money and stepfather, things spiral down hill. Tonight’s Audrey 2 offers a removable actor who dances and slithers around with a Rocky Horror dragster attitude and a great sense of timing. He overwhelms Seymore, driving this nice Jewish boy in search of a Jewish mother to murder. In the supporting roll we have the always sassy Robby Pigott as sadistic dentist, a helpless addict high on nitrous. The chorus narrates and wiggles their hips to sustain momentum, and Muchnik acts as a voice of reason. One thing I’ve leaned in musical theater, reason doesn’t get you very far; you’ll be lucky to just get a good solo number. But the chorus gets more good songs (“Dentist,” “Suddenly Seymore”) and better costumes and more spunk and vinegar than even Audrey 2. This is the big, over the top musical we need to celebrate a return of actual live entertainment with a minimum mask and spacing rules. While I was closer to the hip hop bar than the stage, this was as partying evening of the entertainment we expert from Orlando Shakes and director Steve McKinnon. We dodged some rain showers while the cast hit all the high notes, and learn valuable lessons: water your plants, be nice to strangers, and when a plant starts ordering you to kill random people remember we eat at salad bars. Salad bars don’t eat us.

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