Dominion High School’s awesome Audrey II and solid orchestration bring ‘Little Shop’ to life

Amy Young - Pictured: James Allen, Cindy Lloyd, and Chris Sandocal

It may be suppertime, but this isn’t your usual dinner fare:  human limbs, blood, and guts. As the domineering man-eating plant devours its meal and grows stronger, the fate of the human race is thrown into jeopardy in Dominion High School’s alluring production of Little Shop of Horrors.

Written by Alan Menken (music) and Howard Ashman (book and lyrics), Little Shop of Horrors is based on the 1960 black comedy film of the same name. It made its Off-Broadway premiere in 1982, moved to Broadway in 2003, and has since spawned numerous revivals and tours around the world. With catchy doo-wop and Motown style tunes, the musical takes place in the urban Skid Row and chronicles the life of Seymour, a poor young employee at Mushnik’s Skid Row Florists. His love for co-worker Audrey is challenged by his thoughts of worthlessness at his uneventful and mediocre life.  Having recently obtained a mysterious, talking Venus Flytrap-like plant, Seymour names it Audrey II, quickly gains notoriety, and business at Mushnik’s flourishes. However, Seymour’s life soon spins out of control as the plant hungers for blood and increasingly gains more power.

The orchestra though made up of only six musicians produced a powerful, resonating sound and kept the show moving at an appropriate pace. Both soloists and ensemble members showcased excellent vocal talent with a pleasant blending of harmonies. 

Heading the cast were Cindy Lloyd as Audrey and James Allen as Seymour. Lloyd displayed a thorough understanding of her character by making strong, consistent acting choices, such as utilizing a high-pitched voice and maintaining a jittery persona. Her vocal technique was also notable, singing pitches accurately and belting with ease.  Allen also sang with aplomb and effectively captured the adorably awkward and self-conscious personality of Seymour.  Together, the two connected believably as a couple.

Joao Versos portrayed one of the most memorable characters of the show, Audrey II. With sassy swagger and attitude, Versos’ colorful singing and signature sinister laugh captured the audience’s attention.  Decked out in a full-on plant suit, Versos made the most out of hand gestures and body rolls, giving an entertaining performance. Despite playing a role originally meant for a male actor, Lexie Gruber shined as Mushnik with her rich, deep vocals and mature aura. While energy seemed a bit low and some moments placed more importance on singing than acting, the pacing of the show never lagged and cast members handled the interesting style of music admirably. 

Tackling the daunting task of making their own Audrey II figure, the tech crew successfully built a unique, large-scale puppet version with various pods, allowing for creative staging. Audrey II’s makeup blended perfectly with the colors of the plant costume, essentially camouflaging the actor. Despite some microphone feedback, sound cues were executed fairly well.

Overall, the cast and crew of Little Shop of Horrors delivered a solid performance filled with memorable melodies and compelling scenes. As long vines dropped from the ceiling into the audience, the final chord resonated with the cast’s plea to the audience ringing loud and clear: “Don’t feed the plants!”

 
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