Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Broward Stage Door: Little Shop of Horrors (2 reviews)

The Stage Door Theater opened its production of Little Shop of Horrors at its Coral Springs location on April 13, 2012.
One of the longest-running Off-Broadway shows of all time, LITTLE SHOP features 60’s style Rock-n-roll, Doo Wop, and Early Motown. A down-and-out skid row floral assistant becomes an overnight sensation when he discovers an exotic plant that brings him fame and fortune.
Dan Kelly directed a cast that featured Michael Kinden, Bob Levitt, Erica Lustig, Matthew William Chizever, Kassiopia DeVora, Amber Hurst-Martin, Jasmin Richardson, and Marcus Davis.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Director Dan Kelley, who certainly knows from shtick, has wisely not gilded this lily, which is a quiet satire at its heart. Stage Door is famous for the variable quality of its shows from the sublime (Light in the Piazza) to the wretched (Singin’ in the Rain). This entry skews solidly toward the beguiling category, much like its satisfying The Drowsy Chaperone, also directed by Kelley.
We caught one of the last previews for scheduling reasons, so the production had another few days to fine-tune the show. But the only real fault that was that most of the evening could have used a little more zip. This was clear any time Chizever came on stage; you could feel the whole enterprise kick up a notch from the electricity he brought to a wide array of parts.
The best news is that the pre-recorded music tracks – enabling the score to have a full sound on a budget – are once again the skilled work of former Floridian David Cohen. If you must go with canned music as Stage Door opts to in order to give its audience the sense of a full band, Cohen delivers multi-layered pristine soundtracks with room for the singers to caress the lyrics.
Kelley has cast the show well, especially in the vocal department. Linden has to work to seem appropriately woebegone with a stooped posture and nasally timbre, but he lands the songs and lyrics as well as anyone could hope for.
Lustig is unimpeachable as the leggy, busty heroine with equally bad taste in boyfriends and clothing. She nails the weird meld of baby doll and clarion soprano voice that Ellen Greene patented for the role when she created it in the original production.
Audrey II’s deep Motown baritone voice with its expressive melisma comes from Marcus Davis..
The strongest element of the entire show after the Menken-Ashman contributions is Chizever. He doesn’t have the lead role, but he runs away with every scene he’s  in because he invests each of his daffy characters with vibrancy and vigor whether it’s a skid row bum, a talent agent, a well-heeled customer or the wife of the Life magazine founder.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Stage Door’s new production of the 1982 Off-Broadway hit is, unsurprisingly, far more modest than the 2003 Broadway-bound version that had its out-of-town tryout at Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables. That one featured Broadway veterans and pricey design elements. This one, staged and choreographed by Dan Kelley, is simpler yet plenty entertaining, thanks to the material and a company of non-union actors with good voices.
Though the actors have to perform Ashman and Menken’s ‘60s-style score to recorded tracks, they sell the songs, particularly in the case of the girl-group street “urchins” Chiffon (Kassiopia DeVora), Crystal (Jasmin Richardson) and Ronnette (Amber Hurst-Martin). Linden and Lustig get all nerds-in-love on Suddenly Seymour, and Lustig is properly pitiable yet wistful as she imagines a better life on Somewhere That’s Green.
But it’s Chizever who earns MVP honors in Stage Door’s Little Shop, playing the demented dentist, a businessman-botanist and all manner of people (male and female) interested in Audrey II. A quick-changing chameleon who’s perfectly at home chewing the tacky scenery, Chizever works like fertilizer on the show, feeding it energy and a glorious goofiness.
Little Shop of Horrors plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through May 20, 2012.

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