Review: 'Little Shop' Blooms In Currier House

Little Shop of Horrors

Currier Fishbowl, November 13-16

Stage directed by Steven E. Grossman ’05

Music directed by Daniel A. Jepson

and Michael C. Mitnick ’06

Produced by Christina M. Mulligan ’03

The Currier House Musical Society’s adorable rendition of the cult classic Little Shop of Horrors, which ran this weekend in the Currier Fishbowl, was a well-acted, feel-good piece of House theater. The Society’s production was, as far as I could tell, based on Howard Ashman’s original theatrical script; so, although its ending was more sardonic than the well-known film’s—in the Currier version, virtually all of the major characters got eaten—upbeat fun was still had by all.

Little Shop of Horrors benefited from its strong, enthusiastic cast. In his role as the rather nerdy Seymour, David V. Kimel ’05 scrunched, got clumsy and was generally funny, while Warren M. Tusk ’05 played the vaguely stereotypical shopkeeper Mushnik with the right dose of silliness; their dancing duet, “Mushnik & Son” (omitted from the film) was pretty funny.

Aidan S. Madigan-Curtis ’07, as Seymour’s love interest Audrey, was absolutely wonderful; she understood exactly how to overact her character and sang quite beautifully as well.  When she dropped her gangster’s-moll falsetto and let her voice shine through—as in “Somewhere That’s Green,” her big solo number—her voice showed considerable force.

The rest of the cast and crew were likewise very good. The chorusing trio of Crystal (Cailin M. O’Connor ’05), Ronnette (Kristen D. Lozada ’07) and Chiffon (Raya D. Terry ’04) danced well and provided excellent support; their performance of the title piece and their backgrounds on “Da-Doo” were infectious. David L. Kowarsky ’05, as Audrey’s dentist boyfriend Orin, was entertainingly sadistic, although he might have benefited from a bit of voice amplification. Lucas J. Mix, as a customer and in a variety of other roles, appeared to take a cue from David Gest and ran with it superbly: his deadpan weirdness verged on hilariousness. On the production side of things, the set by Jeffrey C. Winer ’03 and the costumes by Patricia Gnazzo Pepper were charming.

Show-stealer status was unequivocally won, however, by the person-eating plant Audrey II. The Currier House Musical Society scored a coup by somehow managing to rent a set of awesome-looking puppets from a New York supplier (sources tell me that only five groups of such puppets exist), and made splendid use of them onstage. As the play progressed and scenes changed, Audrey II grew larger and larger, finally ending up the size of a small Volkswagen, equipped with fangs and a mouth full of purple feathers. The puppeteering was fabulous: Sarah D. Ronis ’03, who operated the smallest version of the plant, and John S. Denton ’06, who wore it in its final two forms, did a splendid job keeping up with the suitably raunchy voicing of Nathaniel R. Brooks ’04, and showed considerable physical versatility and comic timing.

There were a bunch of children in the audience on Sunday afternoon, and although one grew vocally upset at Mushnik’s demise in particular, and was no doubt terrified by the puppets in general, the remainder seemed happily enthralled. From what I could tell, everybody else in the audience (to say nothing of the cast) had a good time, too.

—Crimson Arts Critic Patrick D. Blanchfield can be reached at blanchf@fas.harvard.edu.