‘Little Shop’ packs big punch

Michael Tortorich
Audrey II, played by Raphael Barges, talks to Seymour.

It’s been on the big screen, on Broadway, off-Broadway, and beginning this week, it’ll be on the Pasqua Theater stage.

“Little Shop of Horrors” will begin its run Thursday night in Gonzales, kicking off the 2010 Ascension Community Theater schedule.

The 1960 musical comedy, written by Howard Ashman, will be directed by Kevin M. White.

The music, written by Alan Menken, harks back to the sounds of the 1960s, relying on rock-and-roll, doo-wop and Motown styles.

Musical director Mason Griffin drives the show’s tunes with his fleet-fingered piano work.

As the director attested to, Griffin’s lone piano fulfills the duties of instrumental accompaniment.

The sparse arrangement allows for the cast’s vocal abilities to take the fore.

“He is phenomenal,”?White said of Griffin. “He’s going to go places.”

There is plenty of singing to go around in this one. The show’s well-known musical numbers include: “Skid Row (Downtown),” “Somewhere That’s Green,”?“Suddenly Seymour” and the snappy title song.

Along with the singing comes demand for dancing, so the help of choreographer Natalie Baily was enlisted.

“The dancing is all professional,”?White said. “They often end scenes out of breath.”

Another necessity was the creation of the living, breathing – and talking – plant creature known as Audrey II.

Ken Decker Jr. of prop and makeup studio CFX constructed separate Audrey II props to represent the monster plant at various stages of growth.

CFX?also made body parts that were needed for some of the show’s darker moments.

K.D. Amond designed the set, and did “an amazing job,” White said.

Mattie Olson and Annette Ambeau handled costume duties.

The period in which the show is set made for a challenge, as vintage props were needed, such as old tin cans and an out-dated dentist chair.

“Little Shop of Horrors” is a tale of a hapless florist shop employee who raises a unique plant – voiced by Raphael Barges and puppeteered by Lacie Laurendine – with a taste for human blood.

Seymour Krelborn, played by Landon Watts, is a poor orphan who lives on skid row. He works with a pretty blonde woman, Audrey, portrayed by Rachel Assaf, who dates a sadistic and abusive dentist, Orin Scrivello, played by C.J. Donaldson.

They work for Mr. Mushnik, played by Kyle LeMaire, who goes from nearly shutting down the shop to instant success.

Crystal, Ronette and Chiffon – all named after 1960s girl groups – narrate the tale. They are played by Shelley Regner, Ashley Lopez and Megan Davis Dewberry, respectively.

Megan Davis-Dewberry, Ashley Lopez and Shelley Regner gather around Kyle LeMaire.