Though Gary Yealdhall as Seymour and Lauran Taylor as Audrey are effective singers and convincing players in the Pasadena Theatre Company's production of "Little Shop of Horrors," both were upstaged by the man-prop that is Audrey II.
The voracious carnivorous plant that keeps growing is given life, character and a large baritone voice by Phil Greenfield. Cajoling, then demanding to have his insatiable appetite appeased, Greenfield gleefully grows menacing as his voice expands with the plant's burgeoning bulk. Audrey II is a work of art, painted and perfected at Chesapeake Center. The smaller version is manipulated by Fred Wells; Brian Alls animates the large version.
The trio of Chiffon, Crystal and Juanita -- performed by Camille Weeks-MacMillan in her Pasadena debut, college student Mia Nicholson and 14-year old Amanda Smear -- is a show-stopper. All sing beautifully enough to be in any "Dreamgirls" cast. They have had the advantage of a superb vocal coach in Parris Lane, who shook the house on opening night with her singing of "Daughter of God" in tribute to the late Howard Ashman, the play's lyricist.
Tony Anzalone also is on the mark as florist shop owner Mushnik, investing the meddlesome proprietor with warmth and still finding all the laughs in the role. Michael R. Davis sinks his teeth into the role of sadistic dentist, Orin. Davis also is seen as the Derelict, the Announcer and Radio Interviewer.
As the dentist's masochistic patient, Todd Cunningham is memorable, and he does walk-ons as a transvestite and Mrs. Luce. Doing double and triple duty is a Pasadena Theatre tradition. Yealdhall doubles as scenic designer and program artist.
The onstage five-piece orchestra is consistently excellent, clearly enjoying the score. Producer Sharon Steele, director Chuck Dick and choreographer Terri Askew deserve accolades. Pasadena Theatre Company has triumphed over hardships of building and moving sets between two locations.
"Little Shop of Horrors" continues at Anne Arundel Community College's Pascal Center through Sunday. It moves to Chesapeake Center for the Creative Arts in Brooklyn Park on April 17 and continues there on weekends through April 26. Call 410-969-1801 for information and reservations.
Pub Date: 4/03/98