I was the one in the audience that did the involuntary cough at every quiet moment last Friday, despite smuggling in a packet of honey lockets and trying to get my coughs out during applause.
But for a few short hours, I forgot that I was poorly and was transported to a dirty little shop on Skid Row. As the still vagrants laying at the side of the stage reanimated and punctuated the bouncy opening number and title track "Little Shop of Horrors" with their baritone one liners and the cast emerged I knew I was witnessing something special.
The intimate setting of StoryHouse's main Theatre in thrust means that you get the full professionalism of a West End set production but more up close and personal. The multi-purpose "one set does all" was not a hindrance to the vibrancy and depth of the world we were transported to. In fact, the set was brilliant. The intermittently flashing Mushnik sign, the old fashioned cash register and the star of the show, AUDREY TWO!
Let's face it, Audrey Two wasn't really part of the set, as we found out at the end when the puppeteer of Two'ey (Brett) joined the curtain call in his 'planty' boots along side the incredible, booming voice of Audrey(Ryan)! The real life, singing, swearing, monstrous plant that gobbles up the miscreant cast was neon, huge, and blood chilling!
As a huge fan of the film I found it difficult not to sing along and equally difficult to hide my disappointment at the sustained reluctance to add the 'just-for-the-movie' song Mean Green Mother From Outer Space. (I'm sure they could sing it as an encore). The production was small but smart, demonstrated perfectly by Stephane Anelli's performance as Orin, The Dentist and as many, many other characters, all as funny as the next.
Cindy, Emily-Mae and Tanisha were outstanding as Chiffon, Ronnette and Crystal, each of their solo sections perfectly suited to their vocal abilities and showing them off to perfection. Tony Timberlake's hysterical dancing as Mr Mushnik had us in stitches and may have even triggered a cough from laughing so much.
Joshua Lay's performance of Seymour was perfect (if only betrayed by the fact that he is actually a pretty fit bloke and doesn't look quite pathetic enough). He struck the right chord with his desperation and exasperation in the face of his moral dilemmas. For me and the rest of our group who went to see the show though, Michelle Bishop stole the show as Audrey. Her performance of Somewhere That's Green was genuinely moving and maybe even conjured a watery eye. Pouncing on her after the show and gushing at how much we enjoyed her performance we were greeted by a beautifully humble actress who was genuinely grateful for the positive feedback.
If you haven't seen it already, get along! It's running until 2nd June at StoryHouse in Chester, get your tickets here.
And whatever you do, DON'T FEED THE PLANTS!
Image Credits - Mark McNulty