This production I saw nearly two years ago, but thought I’d share my thoughts as it was a truly enjoyable, funny show.
Originally produced at the Menier Chocolate Factory London (above), and transferring to the West End for a season this was the first West End revival of Little Shop, and one long overdue. The plant, Audrey II, was completely redesigned to appear more like a venus flytrap (whilst giving it a more phallic shape) and the puppet was one of the most expensive and experimental aspects of the production and one that worked excellently. The production securely established the Chocolate Factory as a force to be reckoned with. As the production started out in the limited confines of the Factory itself, any embellishment to the subesquent versions was in keeping with the ‘less is more aspect’. The set was enlarged, enabling the ‘downtown’ environment to frame the shop but the entire design by David Farley (who also designed the plant) was coherent and appropriate to the nature of the production.
Direction by Matthew White and choreography by Lynne Page was executed well and the performances from the actors, who included Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy as Mushnik, were energetic and exciting and whilst some had less than brilliant ‘singing’ voices there was no weak link in the entire production. I do feel, however, that any actress to follow Ellen Greene as Audrey has a tough act as Greene created a unique interpretation that defined the role. However Claire Buckfield, avoiding a mere re-tread of Greene’s portrayal, was strong, sympathetic and vibrant. Alex Ferns played on his Eastenders character and was brilliant casting as the masochistic biker dentist. The lead of Seymour was played near-perfectly by Damian Humbley whilst the three urchins were brilliant and kept the show thundering along with their Supreme-like voices.
I was glad that I was able to catch the show as it isn't often produced these days and, having missed it in London, it is a sad state of affairs that tours are not always produced. The Menier Chocolate Factory would later produce the revivals of A Little Night Music and La Cage Aux Folles both of which I missed and neither toured, although it was announced that the latter would only to be cancelled.