Horror Meets Comedy at Sunset Playhouse's 'Little Shop'
Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s musical Little Shop of Horrors is almost impossible to bring to the stage. The complex blend of horror, comedy, drama and music is made all the more difficult by the technical demands of a huge puppet and so much else. The best any production can realistically hope for is being able to effectively tap into the fun of the premise. This is exactly what the Sunset Playhouse does as it brings the show to life.
Landon Quinney is a thoroughly enjoyable nebbish in the role of a flower shop employee named Seymour. He brings business to a failing flower shop on Skid Row by displaying an ever-growing alien plant that feeds on fresh human blood. Katie Katschke brings charm to the role of his love interest, Audrey. Katschke’s appeal makes the tenuous relationship between Audrey and Seymour compelling. Eric Safdieh-Nelson lends the production a respectable comic menace as Audrey’s sadistic dentist boyfriend. With his weird twisting of abusive evil and offbeat comedy, the dentist is probably the most difficult role in the entire musical. Safdieh-Nelson does a good job of bringing the central pulse of the character to life.
The technical end of the show is always a bit tricky. The set design makes good use of the full stage at the Furlan Auditorium. Aside from a few moments of muddled sound, the musical end of the show is delivered quite well. Of particular note is Dominic Russo’s soulful delivery of the voice of the plant. The big show-closing number, “Don’t Feed the Plants,” resonates with vivid energy that is sharply choreographed by Reginald T. Kurschner.
Through March 19 at Furlan Auditorium, 800 Elm Grove Road. For tickets, visit sunsetplayhouse.com.