Perry did a lot with a little in their production of "Little Shop of Horrors." Despite not having the biggest stage, or even the largest turn out, the sets were still able to make you feel the grit of Skid Row and the ominous aura of the dentist's office, with their simple, yet very well made designs.
As the lights dimmed, the audience was greeted by Carly Piotrowski as The Blond Bum. She gave the audience a rather amusing warning to turn off all cell phones, although if you knew how good the musical was going to be, you would turn yours off without a second thought. From there it goes into the titular song, "Little Shop of Horrors," and we are introduced to Crystal (Alaysia Westbrook), Chiffon (Melanee Edmunds), and Ronette (Britt-Nee Watkins) as the Doo-wop trio with vocals that will remind you of The Supremes. They always hit the right notes and make every song they're in that much better, but the title song really showcases their talents.
From there, we are introduced to the staff of Mushnik's Skid Row Florists. Shayla Dyer plays Mr. Mushnik with a passion and belligerence that really make the character likeable, while being antagonizing. We also meet Terri Boyle as a very kind and sympathetic Audrey. Her acting, New York accent, and singing skills are superb, as you will see in "Somewhere That's Green" in which her singing about the fifties dream she desires is almost enough to bring you to tears.
But we also meet Mark Byars, the hero of the hour, as Seymour. Not only can he sing and act with impeccable skill, but he is also the musical's Student Director, Student Music Director, a Program Designer and a Ticket Sales Manager. He's a hard worker and it shows. His acting and vocal talents rival those of an actor from a Broadway musical, as you will see in "Da Doo" and just about every part of musical he's in.
We then meet my favorite character, Orin Scrivello D.D.S., played by Adam Howard. In the musical number "Be A Dentist," he really shines with his comedic and acting skills. He's so outrageously hilarious on stage, and even in the program that I'm sad to see him go in the end of the first act. But don't worry, he'll be, and funnier in Act 2.
Speaking of Act 2, that's when The Audrey II, the giant carnivorous plant for those of you not familiar with this musical, voiced by Deon Starr, gets its moment to shine in "Suppertime." When I heard the singing what came to mind was soul. Normally soul is a human characteristic, but this plant's got it. But of course we've got to give some credit to puppeteer Samantha Morgan, for getting the plant and words in sync, as well making the plant "act."
Now what about the unsung, and not-sung-enough, heroes of the musical? The orchestra pit under music director Gerald Watkins hit every single note and enhanced the experience. The company of extras also did really well in "Skid Row" by adding lots of rich harmonies when needed, or making a nice little appearance every now and then. The pint sized child actors also get points for being adorable, and talented actors for their age. And the stage crew did a magnificent job, with smooth set changes and lighting that really helped you see everything on stage perfectly.
If I could get Rick Moranis and the chorus to sing a parody of one song from the musical to summarize it, it would go like this:
I came to it with no expectations
But it was all amazing, thanks to the
Then when I came out of the auditorium I wrote this
I liked it, and you'll like it too.
The Kelly Critics is a joint program of the Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh CLO's Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musicals, in which students at Kelly schools review musicals at other Kelly schools. Reviews are edited by senior theater critic Christopher Rawson (firstname.lastname@example.org), a long-time Kelly Awards judge.
First Published May 9, 2012 12:15 AM