Little Shop of Horrors at MTC
By Marlene S. Gaylinn
The laws of Nature need to be understood in order for humans to survive on Earth. In other words, we have yet to learn how to live harmoniously among ourselves and within our natural environment before it’s too late. It therefore follows that after an unusually trying winter (which may be attributed to climate change), Norwalk’s Music Theatre of Connecticut’s (MTC) is welcoming spring with “Little Shop of Horrors.” This tongue-in-cheek musical features another freak of nature in the form of an insatiable, potted plant.
This story illustrates how a mysterious plant can begin as a simple, moneymaking attraction, grow into a demanding, meat-eating monster, and finally becomes so threatening that it could possibly take over the world. The plot is lighthearted and sometimes degenerates into a very silly, childish spoof. However, if you compare its greedy, underlying theme with the run-away forces of technology, Wall St., real estate developers, the banking industry etc. that often controls our lives, you might agree that this nonsense is a satire of the real world.
The award-winning “Little Shop of Horrors,” is based on the film by Roger Corman, screenplay by Charles Griffith, and book and lyrics by Howard Ashman. Its words, if you can hear them clearly, are quite clever. Best of all, is the hopping music composed by Alan Menken.
At MTC, Kevin Connors directs a wonderful ensemble of polished, professional actors. Each character is a gem. “Somewhere That’s Green” is a lovely lament rendered by a Shelley Winters-type “Audrey” (Elissa DeMaria). The number, “Suddenly, Seymour” with focus on the nerdy, flower shopkeeper, Anthony DiConstanzo, is lots of fun. Tony Lawson steals each scene as he plays the torture-loving dentist and several other mean, money-grabbing characters. Lou Ursone as “Mr. Musknik,” really got into his lovable, fatherly character in “Mushnik and Son.”
Thomas Conroy directed a sparkling; live band and Steven Midura provided the lively choreography.The song and dance trio composed of Inuka Ivaska, Kristian Espiritu and Gabrielle Lee wore lavish gowns designed by Diane Vanderkroef. The group screamed too loudly for my taste, but otherwise they introduced the sequences very nicely. Last but not least was the deep, “FEED ME!” voice of the monster plant named, Audrey II, which was skillfully rendered by Peter McClung. Erin Flanagan Lind and Corey T. Lind designed the plant puppet, and the puppeteer was Will Strong.
This is fine, family entertainment. Seats are filling quickly as word of this new, professional theatre in Norwalk is spreading far and wide.
Plays through May 3
Next season begins in October with “Evita”
This review appears in “On CT & NY Theatre” April/May 2015