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Thursday, 9 March 2017

REVIEW: Little Shop of Horrors at Newcastle Tyne Theatre



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 Feeding Time At The Tyne

Little Shop of Horrors
Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Until Saturday 11th March 2017

There are a number of musicals, which pay homage to the 50s and 60s B-Movies, that have large followings. Return to the Forbidden Planet, Rocky Horror Show and, of course, The Little Shop of Horrors. The films are not perfect, but there’s a certain quirkiness that makes a trip to the theatre appealing. In fact, I will guess that a number of the people at tonight’s show will have seen previous productions of the show and wanted to see it again. I know I did!

In a world of endless juke-box musicals, this show features an original score from the songwriting team of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. The songs are as charming as the story in this tale of death and destruction at the hands of a plant. Bizarrely the show has a feel good factor and it left me feeling happy at the end.

As for the story, Mr Mushnik (Stuart Liddle), runs a florists on Skid Row which is really struggling. After another very quiet day’s business he decides to close the show and to let his two members of staff Audrey (Amy Chapman) and young Seymour (Richard Delroy) go. Seymour persuades him to put a plant he has been cultivating in the window in order to attract business. He thinks it is a type of Venus flytrap and he recalls how it had appeared after a sudden solar eclipse. As it happens, the idea of putting a plant in the window is an immediate success but there are other consequences.

We also have a sub-plot as Audrey has a motorcycling riding dentist boyfriend Orin (Joshua Raven) has a fascination with pain. Audrey’s friends are less keen on a lad who often leaves her black and blue.

The show is a fun production which features a fairly small cast. Before the show begins the drunk, performed by Chris Rushmere-York, comes off the stage and tries to get involved in some selfies with the audience. The show proper begins with the singing trio of Ronette (Chloe Copas), Chiffon (Rebecca Mackett) and Crystal (Bridget Marsh) performing the opening number. They frequently pop up and the songs they sing help narrate the story. Adding to the downtown attitude are three young actors playing some street-wise kids and Rebecca Howland, Holly Spreadbury and Holly Skiggs appear to enjoy their roles too.

The main cast do well under Dee Wood’s debut as director. Amy Chapman and Richard Delroy are charming and work well together. Joshua Raven is suitably unhinged as the nitrous oxide sniffing dentist. A mention too for the unseen operator (David Patrick) and voice of Audrey (Chris Rushmere-York) who also had their funny moments as the plant.

Once again, Tyne Theatre Productions, performs the show with a great live band, this time under musical director Jenni Winter.   

This was first night and we had the occasional unscripted laugh as the props didn’t quite behave as planned but the cast recovered well. My only niggle was with the sound which I hope resolves itself in future performances. Occasionally it lacked the balance needed between the cast and the band.

The profits from the show is being reinvested into restoring the Grade 1 Victorian Opera House. Since the opening Tyne Theatre Productions show of The Pirates of Penzance there has been a gradual improvement of the theatre’s facilities. The bar area has had a well needed bit of tlc and the number of seats that have been refurbished has been increased. The Preservation Trust should be praised for the work that has been carried out despite the lack of funding of the arts in the North East.

Little Shop of Horrors is a popular musical that has been produced with a sense of fun and love.  A great cast and a crazy plant did a good job of entertaining the audience.

Review by Stephen Oliver.

Tickets: £13.50, £10 Concessions, £8 Limited View. Groups 10+ get 1 free (plus booking fees when booking online and over the phone)
The Tyne Theatre & Opera House Box Office is open 10am-3:30pm Monday to Friday and event days
Booking and Information Line: 0844 2491 000 (10am – 6pm Monday to Friday)
Tickets also available now from: www.tynetheatreandoperahouse.uk




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