I never thought that BATS would better their legendary run of Beauty and The Beast. But their new production of Little Shop of Horrors is just as accomplished, and just as entertaining. It was my very great privilege to attend a special preview performance of what’s in store for audiences when it opens in The Haymarket on Tuesday.
I had high expectations, as always, but I was surprised at how much they have, once again, raised the bar.
Their version of the legendary Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors casts experienced hands, gives an opportunity to both new players and young stars of the future, and features what is, without doubt, the best (series of) prop(s) in the history of local Am Dram. Take a bow puppeteer Gavin Brooker (who pops up early on as a prostrate wino).
To top it all, it has been directed by Nick Brannam, who is, unbelievably, just 22 years-old. He has, in addition to choreographing the show and designing the scenery, cast and guided the perfect company, leading his team from the front to bring all of Little Shop’s B movie silly fun to brilliant life.
It concerns hapless Seymour Krelbourn (Ian Moseley), who discovers an exotic plant which reverses the fortunes of the flower shop of Mr Mushnik (Anthony Mitchell). But the plant’s unusual diet of blood – a fact he hides from Audrey (Laura Newborough), the co-worker he’s in love with - causes him more than a few problems.
Right from the opening, and the entrance of Kirsty Bennett, Louise Gains and Jade Hollingshead as the perfectly harmonized attitude-oozing sassy Sha-Bop bombshells, I was entranced by Little Shop.
Just as I admired one number or moment and thought it couldn’t get any better, along came another gem of a theatrical moment to make me laugh out loud, pluck my heartstrings, or leave me agog with admiration.
Newborough totters adorably, delivering a beautiful Suddenly Seymour, Mitchell skills are showcased in hilarious Mushnik and Son, and Ian Spud Smith is hysterically funny as the plant, especially his ‘nom nom nom’ mastication sound effect.
There are fantastic people in supporting roles, too, including Chris Andrews’ demented first customer interested in the “strange and interesting plant” and the excellent chorus girls.
Joe Humberstone brings his best maniacal laugh as Audrey’s psychopathic dentist boyfriend, who has one of the best comedic songs of the show, but Joe and co are prevented from walking away with it by the star turn of the outstanding yet unshowy Ian Moseley.
His performance is sincere and genuinely affecting, and, to add to his light touch and comedic ability, he has an absolutely incredible voice. It’s such a treat to see someone step into the limelight for the first time and knock it out of the park in this manner.
Let Ian and the rest of the cast completely entertain you. If you miss this joyously silly show, you’ll certainly regret it.