A super version of the off-Broadway musical hit, "Little Shop of Horrors," is currently on stage at the Burn Brae Dinner Theatre in Burtonsville. The show is scheduled to run through Sept. 13.
The play, based on the low-budget 1960 Roger Corman movie, has delicious off-beat humor and Faustian overtones. Superbly directed by first-time director Rick Stohler, the Burn Brae production features top-notch performances by the whole cast.
But it is David James as Seymour, the meek flower shop clerk who sells his soul to a people-eating plant, that puts this show over the top.
The pace is excellent and never falters. The actors are highly energized and always move with motivation. They all execute their numbers with refreshing vigor.
As the singing, swinging trio who tunefully comment on the action, Monique Midgette, Mary (Gabrielle) Goyette and Megan Lawrence are exceptional in their vocal delivery and harmony.
Terry Sweeney has created the nifty choreography for the show and the original plant design by Lynne Brinton is priceless.
The clever book and lyrics are by the late Howard Ashman and the charming music was composed by Alan Menkin. The show opened in 1982 and ran for five years off-Broadway. It garnered the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical of 1982-83 season. The 1986 film version earned an Academy Award nomination for the team.
Some of the memorable songs include: "Little Shop of Horrors," "Skid Row (Downtown)," "Somewhere That's Green," "Suddenly, Seymour."
Set in a seedy flower shop in Skid Row (the limbo for lost souls) owned by a ruthless character named Mushnik, the story tells how the lovesick Seymour breeds a little plant which he calls Audrey II after the store's young blond sales clerk.
To his amazement, Seymour discovers by the accidental prick of his finger that the plant will only accept human blood as its nourishment. The green horror promises the hapless Seymour fame and fortune if he obtains the grisly nourishment it needs.
As the plant becomes screechingly more demanding the little clerk reluctantly feeds the creature (now grown to monstrous proportions) several unsavory characters including his true love. By the end of the play even he is betrayed and the huge, hulking green thing sets out to gobble up the audience.
Frank Farrow is terrific as the wheedling, diabolical voice of Audrey II and James Scott Dakin's adroit puppet manipulation is magnificent.
Tina Marie DeSimone delights as Audrey, Seymour's passive, masochistic paramour. But DeSimone could inject a more plaintive yearning in her rendition of "Somewhere That's Green."
Director Stohler is a riot in his portrayal of Audrey's sadistic dentist boyfriend. In the role of Mushnik (originally a male part) Kathleen Hammen is quite good but she seems a little too nice in the role of a grasping, greedy opportunist. Caroline Cash and Terry Sweeney are excellent as minor characters.
Meanwhile, the Maryland Arts Festival in residence at Towson State University is presenting a knockout version of the amusing musical revue, "Nunsense," through Aug. 1.
The popular Dan Goggin show that spoofs convent life in a series of very funny song sequences replete with slapstick humor, has been well staged by Nancy Powichroski. The impressive choreography is by Todd Pearthree and the fine orchestra is under the direction of K. J. Davis.
This Vaudevillian type show depends entirely on the acting talents and vocal abilities of the individual performers who take solo turns. In this very professional production the entire cast -- Audrey S. Cimino, Karen Marsh, Liz Boyer, Cynthia Rinaldi and Jane Brown -- deliver their songs and comedy bits beautifully. The pace never misses a beat. The singers move around the stage with grace and great spirit and the result is a highly entertaining evening in the theater.