Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Fiorella and Husband drove into Georgetown to catch the Palace Theater's production of Little Shop of Horrors. Fio saw the movie version of it on TV a couple of years ago and thought it was charming. She was really looking forward to seeing the show on stage, especially since the Palace usually does such a bang-up jobs with musicals. The Producers and Grease were fantastic.

Little Shop of Horrors wasn't.

It's not that it was bad--more like mediocre. And apparently word had gotten around because the theater was only half full for the Friday night performance Fio and Husband attended. And the applause was NOT deafening.

The play was better than the actors. The most obvious problem was the female trio that glues the whole production together. They did a great job vocally, and not a single hip swing was out of sync, but only one of them was animated. The second one was so-so, and the third one displayed a poker face during the whole production. The glue didn't hold.

A second problem was the disparate acting styles being used. Some actors just stood around as if not sure what to do, while others were over-animated. Was there a director in the house?

For Fio, the over-the-top style Matthew Burnett used--in all seven (eight?) of his characters--became irritating. He didn't lose himself in the roles as much as the show lost itself in him. Sure, the audience loved it each time he came on in a new guise (but with the same strutting postures he used as Carmen Ghia in The Producers) but that meant the show was about him, not about Audrey I or Audrey II or poor, pitiful Seymour.

Speaking of Seymour, Clifford Butler has a GLORIOUS voice--but was it the right voice for nerdy Seymour?

And why was everyone being miked in so small an auditorium? Fiorella spent most of her time with her finger against her super-sensitive left ear because the sound was at blasting cap level.

The play is musically fascinating in the use of duets, trios, other multiple-voice arrangements. Also, Fio was surprised to learn that the original ending was much darker than the movie, which concluded with the death of Audrey II (the carnivorous plant), and with Audrey I and Seymour marrying and living in the idealized home she had imagined (but with little Audrey IIs popping out of the ground in front of their picket fence). In the stage version, the plant eats its namesake. Then Seymour, realizing the plant has swallowed everyone that matters to him, leaps into the carnivorous maw himself. All Fio could think of was Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Oh, Fio should say that the very last scene featured the four digested victims singing a warning song that ended: DON'T FEED THE PLANT!

As if we can even water them during this drought!

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