"Little Shop of Horrors" is a blast from the past.
That is quite literally the case with Slow Burn Theatre’s production of the off-Broadway hit, in which the vocalists give the musical plenty of Broadway belt, putting much amp in the show’s camp. It’s being staged through June 28 in West Boca Raton.
It's fitting that the small but feisty theater company should go out with a bang, as this is its final show at the West Boca Performing Arts Theater, on the campus of West Boca Community High School, where it performed for five years. For the 2015-2016 season, Slow Burn will partner with the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, staging shows in the Amaturo Theater.
Over the years, Slow Burn has become a divining rod for finding local singers with dazzling skills. Here, once again, the company has nailed it, with a cast that gives the score a rocking sock-hop wail with powerful, arching notes that turn the cavernous theater into a smaller, warmer place. The Van Gogh "Starry Night" set also helps.
In the show, nebbish and down-and-out florist assistant Seymour (Mike Westrich) is working in a shop on Skid Row owned by Mr. Mushnik (Matthew Korinko) when he discovers a new breed of plant and calls it Audrey II, in honor of his secret crush on co-worker and delightful ditz Audrey (Amy Miller Brennan). Although the plant makes Seymour a media superstar, he has a rival for Audrey's affections in her sadistic boyfriend, Orin (Shane R. Tanner, who also plays a stream of other bit characters).
Seymour has another problem: The otherworldly plant has a taste for blood, and if Seymour wants to keep his fame and get the girl, he must feed human flesh to Audrey II (voiced by Geoffrey Short and operated by Rick Pena).
A Greek chorus of sorts keeps things moving and imbues the show with a layer of girl-group wit. Named after Supremes antecedents, Chiffon (Elisa Dannielle), Crystal (Christina Alexander) and Ronnette (Nicole Dikun) give the "Little Shop" some hip-swerving, gum-popping doo-wop backed by a five-piece band thumping just off-stage.
This tune fest was originally based on a lower-than-low-budget 1960 movie (not a musical) by shock-schlock-meister Roger Corman. With book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken, it moved from a stage musical to the big screen again in 1986, starring Rick Moranis and Steve Martin, with Four Tops lead singer Levi Stubbs providing the voice of the voracious plant.
If you saw that flick, you should be aware that the musical has a much different ending. But rest assured that this production has its own star power.
"Little Shop of Horrors" is running through June 28 at West Boca Performing Arts Theater (campus of West Boca Community High School), 12811 Glades Road, in Boca Raton. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with 2 p.m. matinees Sundays. Tickets cost $25-$40. To order, call 866-811-4111 or go to SlowBurnTheatre.org.