Milton Keynes Theatre’s seventh Stage Experience production, Little Shop of Horrors is showing this week. And after a string of successful in-house productions, for the first time, the production has been staged by an external theatre arts training organisation and production company, Vivo D’arte.
With a cast of over 60 performers from the local area, all aged between 10 and 25, this is a busy production which has uncovered some genuine stars of the future in what is a slick and professional show with a live orchestra and a clever revolving set.
Little Shop of Horrors has been a mainstay of am-dram productions since debuting on Broadway 30 years ago. It’s a sci-fi horror/comedy musical with plenty of opportunities for the cast to show off their singing, dancing and acting talents.
In the show, meek floral assistant Seymour Krelborn (Alfie Glasser) stumbles across a new breed of plant he names “Audrey II” – after his co-worker crush (Caitlyn Allen). This foul-mouthed, R&B-singing carnivorous giant venus fly trap promises unending fame and fortune to the down and out Seymour as long as he keeps feeding it… human blood! Things quickly escalate and don’t end well for a few of the characters!
The two leads, Alfie Glasser and Caitlyn Allen deliver outstanding performances with very strong vocals and convincing acting. Special mention should also go to Nathaniel Thomas as Audrey’s boyfriend, biker dentist Orin Scrivello, who gives bucketloads of bad boy charm and just the right amount of nasty to the character. The singing trio of Natasha Holland (Ronnette), Tia Antoine Charles (Crystal) and Chenise Trantum (Chiffon) ooze confidence with plenty of modern day sass and attitude as they dominate the stage. Completing the leading cast are Luke Canavan as shopkeeper Mr Mushnik and Chris Gannon as the voice of Audrey II.
Although the cast delivered consistently strong performances, they were let down on opening night by poor sound mixing as the live orchestra drowned out many of the songs and microphones were not switched on at the right times.
The members of the junior and senior ensembles and the principal dancers were slick, professional and performed their dance routines and musical numbers excellently. Although some of the choreography was possibly a little dated (lots of jazz hands!), it did work with the style of music. The sheer number of performers made some of the scenes very busy but there were opportunities for cast members of all ability levels to be involved which was nice to see.
This is a production which well deserves its opportunity on the big stage – after a few minutes, you stop thinking about it being an ‘amateur’ performance and can enjoy it as a very entertaining show. The cast thoroughly deserved the loud applause and looked like they enjoyed every minute.
Little Shop of Horrors is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 11th August 2018.