By Charly Ralph

Starting its life as a classic black comedy on screen in 1960, the story of Seymour and his man eating plant was adapted for the stage in the early 80s and has since become somewhat of a cult phenomenon. Written by Howard Ashman, with music from Alan Menken inspired by the earlier sounds of doo-wop and rock and roll, Little Shop of Horrors debuted Off-Broadway before treading both the West End and Broadway boards.

Breathing life into the story once more is Sell a Door Theatre Company’s latest production of the musical, currently touring the UK until November. The powerhouse trio of Sasha Latoya (Crystal), Vanessa Fisher (Chiffon) and Cassie Clare (Ronnette) open with the iconic title song in a blaze of energy which they continue to emulate throughout. Each held their own amongst the intricate harmonies and their strong, sassy vocals cleverly narrate key moments in the story.

Sam Lupton’s endearing portrayal of down on his luck Seymour is a joy to watch. Rarely leaving the stage, Lupton’s Seymour remains animated as he juggles new found fame, the demanding carnivorous plant (Audrey II) and falling in love with the original Audrey, just as the audience has fallen for him. His interaction with the very much alive Audrey II further enhances the plant’s movements, provided by Josh Wilmott, and creates a somewhat Master and Servant relationship.

As the show goes on Audrey II grows significantly in size, with each spurt wowing audience members whilst representing the increasing severity of the situation to those in close proximity to the plant. However I was occasionally distracted as Josh Wilmott’s puppeteering and Neil Nicholas’s animated vocals didn’t always correspond perfectly.

The set was basic but effective and allowed for Audrey II to appear colourfully out of place amongst the bland skid row backdrop. I also enjoyed designer David Shields’ attention to detail when altering the newspaper headline board to reflect the plot and housing the band behind a ‘Music Box’ shopfront.

Stephanie Clift brings an overwhelming sense of charisma to the part of Audrey, a sweet yet downtrodden girl desperately trying to hold on to her suburban dreams. Both Clift and Lupton shine on stage, providing the audience with a charming partnership as their innocence, partnered with their comedic timing, lightens an otherwise dark, sci-fi driven plot. For me their rendition of ‘Suddenly Seymour’ is the highlight of the show, romantic, full of hope and vocally beautiful.

Although media hype surrounding the show would have you believe X Factor’s Rhydian Roberts is the star, his time on stage as sadistic dentist Orin Scrivello is limited. His overtly abusive behaviour towards Audrey combined with uncontrollable outbursts of laughter only heightened the disturbing nature of his character. Unfortunately his comedic cameo roles in the second act rather diverted the attention from the show itself to his celebrity status.

Despite the less than happy ending, the feel-good atmosphere within the theatre is contagious and the overly catchy music will stay with you long into the evening.

You can buy tickets for the following dates here:

Belfast Opera House  30 August 2016 – 3 September 2016 

Woking Victoria Theatre  6 September 2016 – 10 September 2016 

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre  13 September 2016 – 17 September 2016 

Lichfield Garrick Theatre  20 September 2016 – 24 September 2016 

Birmingham Alexandra  27 September 2016 – 1 October 2016 

Cardiff New Theatre  3 October 2016 – 8 October 2016 

Spa Bridlington  11 October 2016 – 15 October 2016 

Cheltenham Everyman  17 October 2016 – 22 October 2016 

Coventry Belgrade  26 October 2016 – 29 October 2016 

Manchester Palace  31 October 2016 – 5 November 2016  

Sheffield Lyceum  7 November 2016 – 12 November 2016 

Glasgow Theatre Royal  14 November 2016 – 19 November 2016 

Blackpool Grand Theatre  22 November 2016 – 26 November 2016  

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