Bradley University Theatre opened their 2010-2011 season with Ashman & Menken's perennial off-Broadway favorite, "Little Shop of Horrors".
This charming musical is the tale of shy and backward Seymour Krelborn. Seymour works at Mr. Mushnik's flower shop on Skid Row and harbors an unrequited love for his coworker Audrey.
However, Audrey only has eyes for the cruel and abusive Orin Scrivello.
Orin is a sadistic dentist who selected his profession primarily for the opportunity to inflict pain upon his patients (...that and the nitrous oxide!).
Seymour's fortunes change, along with those of the failing flower shop after he develops a new species of plant. The sweet little plant, whom he christens Audrey II, thrives on human blood and she soon grows to be a real man eater.
The show features several familiar faces and a couple of fresh new ones.
Andrew Kuhlman, a fixture on the Hartmann stage for the last couple years, is cast as Mr. Mushnik. This is just the type of roll that Mr. Kuhlman relishes - loud and funny. His comedic timing only gets better and he does this roll true justice.
Racheal Waldron as Audrey and Ben Sellnow as Seymour do an equally fine job as the star-crossed lovers. Their voices blend well, especially on the song "Suddenly Seymour" which is the musical highlight of this production.
As good as all these performances are, the incomparable Jeremy Behrens steals the show as Orin, the S&M D.D.S. This is a great character that any good actor can sink his teeth into. (check out Jack Nicholson in the original movie!) Mr. Behrens, who has shone in several previous BU shows, has a ball as the laughing-gas huffing bad guy who is also happens to be very hilarious, and the audience has a ball right along with him.
Hope Grandon, Morgan Green, and Dominique Reed do a great job as the Greek Chorus straight out of Motown. These three do a wonderful musical narration of the story from start to finish.
You can't have a good "Little Shop" without a good Audrey II, and I couldn't wait to see what the Bradley prop folks came up with.
In the end, they went to Hollywood, and got an Audrey II from the company that makes the professional and touring company versions of the lovable people eating plant.
All in all, this opening production can be summed up in one single word:
The joy of watching theater at Bradley is the vitality that these young actors always exhibit. This production definitely is no exception. The cast brought such an infectious energy to the stage that they had the audience continually laughing, applauding, and on their feet by the finale.
The play runs through October 3rd, and there is absolutely no reason for there to be an empty seat at any performance! Reserve yours by calling the Bradley University Theater box office at 677-2650.