Little Shop of Horrors Review

Little Shop of Horrors Review

Posted on

 Ryedale Youth Theatre

in association with Kirkham Henry Performing Arts

27th Anniversary Production

“Little Shop Of Horrors”


Milton Rooms, Malton 11-14th April, 2018

By Ann-Marie Gatford

Ryedale Youth Theatre is a talented company of 8-18 year olds, vibrant and innovative and with a new Director/Choregrapher (Chloe Shipley) and her Assistant Director/Choregrapher (Lauren Hood), both ex-RYT members themselves – taking the reins of this exciting production we were treated to a wonderful evening of musical comedic fun in this unusual show.  Truly it wasn’t a horror at all.

For those who weren’t lucky enough to see it the storyline is a hilarious sci-fi spoof comedy musical about a man eating plant – with a love story underpinning it and some social commentary too.

Taking place “somewhere in the USA in a time a little before ours” the tone is set by the five Ronettes (Charlie Armstrong, Matilda Gledhill, Evie Jones, Charlotte Kirk and Abi Rennison),   who tell us in song what’s going on in Mrs Mushnik’s flower shop on Skid Row, the same street where they ‘hang out’ as there is nothing else for them to do.  Mrs Mushnik – a fine comedy characterisation of a Jewish American Mamma with an operatic voice too – was played skilfully  by Hermione Collier-Hield.  Her two assistants – Seymour and Audrey  – were totally believable and kept up their American accents all the way through the show (as did the whole cast). Ben Greenhough, as Seymour, was the complete ‘klutz’ and totally inhabited the character.  He’s also very much in love with Audrey (Romy Freer) who won all our hearts with her beautiful face, unassuming nature and angelic voice.  She was the hapless girlfriend of horrible Orin the Dentist – evilly played by Henry Petch – who took the comedy in the part to its highest level – and brought the house down with his ‘Dentist’ song.

And of course the other star of the piece, the ever hungry and growing Audrey II – the carnivorous plant that Seymour named after the love of his life, Audrey.  This plant had a particular taste in food, and when it was hungry it made sure that Seymour knew all about it, even telling him in song ‘Feed me’ in a wonderful blues song sung by an unseen Issac Bradley.  We certainly got the impression that Audrey II wasn’t going to give upon his quest for food – or blood………….

After Orin the Dentist provided Audrey II’s first meal – dying convincingly from an overdose of laughing gas caused by being unable to remove his mask – this awful piece of greenery then ate Mrs Mushnik, but still he wasn’t satisfied.  Seymour decides that he has to kill the plant, so that he and Audrey can live their lives together ‘Somewhere that’s Green’.  The plant persuades Audrey that he is thirsty and when she takes the watering can to give him a drink he pulls her inside.  Seymour manages to rescue her, but she’s dying and asks him to feed her to the plant so that he can earn money by doing lecture tours which would enable him to leave Skid Row for the better life they’d planned.

Seymour decides his only option is to kill the plant, as he’s worked out that it is intent on world domination.  He tries with a gun and then rat poison but the plant just laughs.  Seymour then realises that he has to kill it from the inside and climbs in with a machete.  Sadly, this plan results in Seymour’s demise.

Having eaten Seymour and spat out his baseball cap he does a huge burp – a truly funny touch. Seymour and Audrey are together at last, although not in the way they’d hoped and planned.  The Ronettes come back to tell us that the plant – which originally came from an old Chinese man Seymour met in the market – was indeed intent on world domination and how it has spread across the USA.

The singing from the four principals: Seymour, Audrey, Mrs Mushnik and Orin the Dentist, was superb.  The humour and pathos were in equal measure, and Audrey brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion.  As did Seymour and Mrs Mushnik in their duet and Orin with his ‘Dentist’ song, but these were tears of laughter. All credit too must go to Audrey II – such a great voice! – and those who operated her so convincingly.

The sets and wardrobe were – as usual – completely spot on.  With such a small stage area and even less back stage areas, the set was cleverly designed to maximise every available inch and every scene change was done swiftly and completely.  The wardrobe department provided costumes for everyone – and there was a cast of 58 – which suited the scenes perfectly.  There was so much going on, and every move was in time, in place and smooth.

There wasn’t as much “dance” in this show as in some of RYT’s previous productions and this was a brave move by the new directing team – but the choreography was very fresh, bright and modern and a delight to watch. It’s the attention to detail that really marks out this company, in every aspect of the production – right down to two ‘workmen’ carrying a ladder across the stage in one scene, perfectly in step and a little jump in the middle – priceless. The singing, in the solos, duets, the quintet of Ronettes and the ensemble cast, was once again absolutely perfect thanks to Musical Choral Director Martin Dixon (in his last show before retiring).  Again we were treated to a live band, under the direction of Chris Hocking, which adds so much and really adds to the atmosphere.  The team effort involved in bringing this show to the Milton Rooms is evident, and all thanks to everyone involved.  The Company clearly is a happy team, and this shows in their dedication to performing their hearts out at every opportunity.  There were so many ‘cameo’ performances, each one a little gem and completely convincing

Each year since 1991 Ryedale Youth Theatre has brought us a different and usually very well-known show and this one certainly was different.  It was a bold decision to choose ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ as their first show by the new Director/Choreographer team but totally the right one.  As former members of RYT themselves they knew the standard they had to live up to – and they have done that in full measure.  They have taken on the baton handed to them by Angela Kirkham, who was Artistic Director of RYT from the beginning until she stepped down at the end of last year’s show, and they’ve shown us that they are more than capable.  The company that Angela started 28 shows ago has built a huge reputation as the company which regularly brings a touch of the West End to Malton, and with the wealth of emerging talent I saw on stage I hope that they will continue to entertain us for many more years to come.

Thank you again, Ryedale Youth Theatre, you continue to amaze your audiences and I left the theatre wishing you did more than one show a year!


Ann-Marie Gatford