★★★★| Life isn’t so great at the Mushnik Flower shop down on Skid Row. Mr Mushnik is on the verge of closing his shop, Audrey is dating a semi-sadist dentist and Seymour’s crush on Audrey is going nowhere. But with the arrival of a strange and interesting new plant, things start to change, especially when Seymour realises that the plant, Audrey II, has a taste for human blood. As things start to look up at the flower shop, Audrey II gets bigger and bigger, as does the list of missing people.

Photo Credit – Matt Martin Photography

Written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, the songwriting partnership behind some of the biggest Disney films, including The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, Little Shop of Horrors crams in the musical numbers, including “Somewhere That’s Green”, “Suddenly Seymour” and the title track “Little Shop of Horrors”. With a flavour of do-wop, funk and Motown running through it (even including a down on their luck version of The Supremes); and a bouncy and animated feel to the whole thing, this show is tremendous, kooky fun.

Sam Lupton excelled as Seymour, with a strong, natural vocal performance and a geeky clumsiness; as did Stephanie Clift as Audrey, bringing out the optimistic side of her character whilst maintain her vulnerability. The two leads gel together perfectly, especially with their show-stopping rendition of “Suddenly Seymour” and they are an absolute delight to watch. Romantic leads as good as these two are few and far between. Rounding off the main cast was Rhydian, who played the “slightly” manic dentist, Orin, with enough gusto to keep it his performance just on the right side of caricature, and with his strong operatic voice lending itself to his big number very well. However, the star of the show was Audrey II, the giant plant, who grows and grows and becomes more animated as the story progresses.

This touring production boasts a thoroughly detailed and well-designed set, with a cartoonish feel and an eye for detail. Add to that some clear, crisp and perfectly balanced audio, an effective lighting design and an all-round top notch cast and you have an impressive show which is highly polished.

Little Shop of Horrors has gained a cult following over the years and it is easy to see why. At the heart of it is a love story about a guy who will do anything to get the girl of his dreams. The songs are catchy and feel instantly familiar, the story is undemanding, and the script has plenty of moments to make you laugh.

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With a healthy nod to 1950’s B-Movies and a musical mish-mash of styles with everything from Motown to Yiddish Folk Music thrown in there, Little Shop of Horrors is a cracking musical comedy which is pure escapist fun.

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Little Shop of Horrors is currently on national tour and details can be found on their website at www.littleshopuktour.com. The show was reviewed at Sheffield Theatres, whose upcoming production of Everyone’s Talking About Jamie opens soon (https://www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk/whats-on/everybodystalking-jamie)

About the author: Paul Szabo
In between visits to the theatre, watching films, photography, walking, scuba diving and singing (badly); Paul writes for TheGayUK.