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Little Shop of Horrors - Melville Theatre

Reviewed by Jordan D'Arcy

 

The first production of Little Shop in Perth was at His Majesty’s Theatre in 1984, soon after its initial Off-Broadway and West End runs. It is evidently still popular with Perth audiences, with Melville Theatre’s opening night performed to a full house.


Director Craig Griffen has wrangled complex, interweaving scenery and props with the help of a well-rehearsed ensemble. Although one wouldn’t call it minimal, the set wasn’t built into the stage, but rather made of boxes of varying sizes designed to resemble the streets of downtown Skid Row. The ensemble cleverly worked as passersby to move pieces of the set to establish new scenes. Some of the windows of the buildings had lights in them, which eloquently gave the impression of the time of day.


There were a couple of opening night teething problems, mostly involving the mics. The level of the band was about perfect throughout the entire production, but some mics were not quite loud enough to hear the performers over the top of the band. This musical relies on the lyrics in the songs to keep the story moving forward and we lost a lot of that story in some parts where there was more action or the band was louder. Additionally, it was unfortunately quite difficult to make out some lines as a lot of diction seemed to be lost due to prioritising keeping up with the New York accents.


Grace Johnson was excellent as Audrey; a highlight of the show was undoubtedly "Somewhere That’s Green". Lochlan Curtis as Seymour brought a well-balanced performance that made the audience empathise with him from the beginning. Another stand out was Chris Alvaro as Mr Mushnik, who, despite visibly being too young for the part even with excellent makeup, did a very convincing job of a grumpy old flower shop owner.


I had not seen a version of Audrey II where the actor’s face could be seen, and Daniel Burton did a wonderful job of conveying a lot more emotion than we would normally get from the plant. It was refreshing to see a different take on something that is traditionally done very similarly between productions. Unfortunately, it had the effect of really humanising the plant, due to being able to see the face of Audrey II. As a result, there were times were Audrey II felt very small – particularly after the wonderful puppets that were used as baby and adolescent Audrey II.


Taui Pinker and Tara Oorjitham have once again ensured that the band and the actors were perfectly rehearsed. The band was exceptional and was a huge asset to this production. For a show that did not have a choreographer attached to the crew, there were significant moments that included dance numbers. These numbers were well done, but the eye of a choreographer may have helped make some of the movements clearer.


Overall, this show was incredibly enjoyable to watch. It was obvious the cast and crew put an enormous amount of thought and effort into rehearsals and were having fun themselves while onstage – which is so important in keeping community theatre alive (ironically).

Bree Aviles (Ronette), Adriana Herrera (Chiffon), Natalie Winsall (Crystal) and Grace Johnston (Audrey). Image: Curtain Call Creatives

Reviewer Note: Jordan has previously been directed by Craig Griffen.Tickets for this review were provided by the theatre company.

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