Little Shop of Horrors, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

“Aberg’s production is an outrageous success”

Summer is coming to a close but there’s still a chance to grab yourself a ticket to the musical sensation of the season! Little Shop of Horrors, the overly-camp 80s stage musical based on the black-comedy 60s film, was resurrected this year at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Arguably more famous than its original film, Little Shop has become a staple in the world of musical theatre – so much so that some dare to stray creatively from the original production. Maria Aberg’s production challenges seeing the show through fresh eyes and casts US drag queen, Vicky Vox, as the monstrous man-eating plant, Audrey II – normally portrayed by a gigantic stage puppet. What was questioned when first announced, has now become a celebratory success. So much so that in future productions, I may be slightly disappointed in not seeing Audrey II sporting seven-inch sequinned stilettos.

The story follows Seymour Krelborn, a floral shop assistant in the middle of downtrodden Skid Row and his sudden rise to stardom when he comes across a ‘strange and interesting’ plant that puts him and owner, Mr. Mushnik back in business. Though Seymour soon discovers that the plant requires human blood to keep thriving and as it grows and grows Seymour pricking his finger every other day won’t cut it anymore – it requires human flesh. As well as Vox starring as the infamous plant, Marc Antolin plays Seymour, Forbes Mason as Mushnik and Jemima Rooper as Audrey, Seymour’s supportive colleague who is kept under the arms of her abusive boyfriend, Orin (Matt Willis). The cast is complete with Renee Lamb, Christina Modesto and Seyi Omooba as Chiffon, Ronette and Crystal – three young Skid Row girls who act as a whimsical greek chorus for majority of the show.

Antolin is a entertaining Seymour and brings an elevated nerdy charm to him. In most productions, Audrey seems to be more farce of the two characters but here, Rooper’s Audrey is more realistic and grounded. The two still balance each other out perfectly. Rooper’s rendition of Audrey’s solo number, ‘Somewhere That’s Green’, has become an almost heartbreaking monologue. Considering the domestic abuse storyline she goes through, it’s a right move to make Audrey the less comical one for a current production.

Though, Vox’s Audrey II is what everybody is talking about when leaving the theatre. Her effortless charisma is present from the second she stomps onto the stage and she delivers everything you expect and more – terrific vocals, undeniable focus and saturated fabulousness.

Aberg’s production is an outrageous success with the final minutes, number and curtain call matching the camp aesthetic and interaction of a Rocky Horror screening on Halloween night.  Exceptional choreography by Lizzi Gee and along with Tom Scutt’s incredible urban design and inventive details (such as the plants in Musnik’s being potted and painted toiletries and household items), it just gets better.

No doubt, Little Shop of Horrors is the show of the summer. Or should I say was? It’s on for only a short while longer and closes on 22nd September. Run and get your tickets! But whatever you do…DON’T FEED THE PLANTS!

Photos: Johan Persson