With shows such as Jesus Christ Superstar and On The Town, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre has gained a well earned reputation for creating interesting adaptations of classic musicals. With their latest revival Little Shop of Horrors it is clear that their streak is continuing.
Little Shop of Horrors which was written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menkin, whose credits include Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast along with many other classics, tells the story of Seymour and his murderous plant Audrey II. With classic songs such as “Suddenly Seymour” and “Somewhere That’s Green” the musical takes us to Skid Row and we see what happens when a plant needs more than water and soil to thrive.
This new production is directed by Maria Aberg and features stunning sets and costumes to die for by Tom Scutt. The show stars West End regulars Marc Antolin and Jemima Rooper as Seymour and Audrey, with the always fabulous Forbes Masson as Mr Mushnik, who has the fortunes of this lowly flower shop turned around with the arrival of Audrey II. The chemistry between Antolin and Rooper was palpable and their rendition of “Suddenly Seymour” was an unexpected tear jerker and the harmonies were flawless. Masson was comedic perfection as Mushnik and showed us the odd glimpse of Mushnik caring for more than the money. “Closed for Renovation” was a joy to watch and it showcased all three of them exceptionally well.
Busted singer Matt Willis played Audrey’s no good boyfriend Orin and he had the right level of menace with keeping up with the comedy which was clear for all to see during “Dentist”. Willis performance in the second act had the audience in stitches and I love a man who isn’t scared of putting on a dress.
Renée Lamb, Seyi Omooba, and Christina Modestou were phenomenal as Chiffon, Crystal and Ronette and their rendition of the opening number “Little Shop of Horrors” was the perfect way to set the tone for the show. Every time the trio were on stage they were flawless.
Audrey II is played by US Drag Queen Vicky Vox who is making her theatrical debut in this role, and if there was a photo beside the definition of scene stealer then it would be Vox’s photo you would see. The casting of Vox was the main reason for me booking to see the show so early, as both a fan of Vox as a singer and performer and a fan of the art of drag being brought out of the shadows.
From Vox’s first appearance on stage and her opening number “Feed Me (Git It)” showed us that this Audrey II was very different to any that had gone before and damn were we in for a fabulously camp and slightly filthy time and I for one couldn’t wait. Vox’s stage presence was magnetic and powerful and her scenes with Antolin were stunning. Her entrance in the middle of the theatre during Act 2 was brilliantly done and allowed me to see just how amazing her costume was. During “Suppertime” I found myself unable to draw my eyes away from Vox and I wondering how I could get my own Audrey II. The execution of the plant was done so well and without a glimpse of the classic image that people have of the huge Venus fly trap, with the puppetry executed that flawlessly you forgot there were people controlling part of Audrey II
As with previous shows at the venue, the set and lighting was fabulous and Scutt’s set design was the perfect match of retro vibes and total destruction which gave us a Skid Row for the 21st Century. The use of shopping carts was inspired and became an integral part of the show rather than just a device to move set pieces around.
Howard Hudson’s lighting design was the final piece in this beautifully camp jigsaw and the reason I booked to see an evening performance. Hudson and his team executed a flawless lighting performance and the stage storm started I was left wondering for a hot minute if it was real thunder and lightning.
All I can say is grab your tickets for this exceptional production today and visit Skid Row and see Audrey II in all her glory and remember Don’t Feed The Plant!!!
Little Shop of Horrors is currently playing at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre until September 22 and tickets are available here.