Overview: “Little Store of Horrors” takes massive swings and misses just a few

Marietta Theatre within the Sq.’s new manufacturing of Little Store of Horrors goals at reinventing the play for a contemporary viewers, and the result’s each intermittently candy and awkward. Definitely, there’s enjoyable available right here with the broad characterizations that the Ashman and Menken musical does so properly, and the actors sing their roles with ability. Nonetheless, there are pacing points right here and there, and the manufacturing’s ambition is at instances its personal worst enemy.

Director N. Emil Thomas has made makes an attempt to modernize the play’s setting, homing in on the city nature of Skid Row whereas pulling the present away from its White appropriationist roots. Nearly all of the characters are performed by a powerful Black solid, led by Andrew Goodall as Seymour and Michiah Merriweather as Audrey.

The scenic and costume choices additionally emphasize the truth that Skid Row has a traditionally excessive non-White inhabitants. In lieu of set items, this manufacturing makes use of projection designs to evoke the mixture of grittiness and vibrancy that characterizes Skid Row. A number of pictures of graffiti and wall artwork in various Black city traditions assist to offer this manufacturing a way of place and id.

The costumes, likewise, lean towards a extra Black-centric sensibility. Keenan Inexperienced is decked out in leather-based jacket and bandana as Dr. Orin Scrivello. As common, the impact clashes along with his “respectable” career, however that was what Ashman and Menken had been going for once they wrote the sadistic doctor, and the impact is well-preserved right here. There may be, nonetheless, one thing a bit missing in Audrey’s wardrobe. I’m not one to cling too tightly to custom, however the wardrobe decisions for Michiah Merriweather usually are not practically outlandish sufficient to justify the precise references the script makes to her daring sartorial decisions.

Actually, I’ve only a few gripes with the staging, conception or technical path of this manufacturing. All of it works moderately properly, and, whereas it might not utterly shatter the mould of what Little Store may be (it could must go additional with a few of its decisions to try this), it does flex that mould a bit bit, which is all the time to be appreciated. My issues lie in a number of the performances, which lack the full-bodied energy essential to make the directing decisions soar.

Little Shop of Horrors
Andrew Goodall as Seymour and Michiah Merriweather as Audrey

Goodall is completely ample in his efficiency as Seymour. He doesn’t carry Seymour’s underdog attraction thus far that it turns into cloying however maintains sufficient of his good-natured awkwardness to be likable. His voice is in contrast to the normal Seymour-style of singing, favoring a heat and sturdy baritone over a squeaky tenor. Actually, he appears barely uncomfortable on a few of Seymour’s excessive notes. A Little Store loyalist could also be fast to suppose that the Seymour-style is non-negotiable, however Goodall makes it work.

Merriweather is a candy and sympathetic Audrey, however her efficiency might use a bit little bit of balancing. Usually, she defaults to the identical facial features and vocal inflection every time she is attempting to convey how beleaguered Audrey is by her abusive paramour. As for her singing, she is clearly extra comfy with belting than with the softer lilts that her songs demand. Her voice is a powerhouse, and when the rating matches her instrument, she shakes the rafters. Nonetheless, she has some issue transferring between full chest and head, which undermines a few of her pure vocal energy.

That mentioned, her rendition of “Someplace That’s Inexperienced” is a spotlight of the entire manufacturing, and it’s additionally one of many moments that’s most amplified by the projection design, which lends a touching but humorous sentimentality to the character’s fantasies.

The remainder of the solid performs their roles properly. Mione Future, Kiaosha McGoughy and Kate Metroka are charming as Ronnette, Crystal and Chiffon. Keenan Inexperienced brings a demented, sprightly vitality to the Dentist, and Angel Fabian Rivera is an engagingly enthusiastic Mr. Mushnik. Ruth Mehari additionally pivots into a number of ensemble roles, delineating every one with readability. There are moments when the ensemble vocals don’t come collectively in complete concord, although that appears like a problem with the sound mixing extra so than the vocal performances.

Little Shop of Horrors
Left to proper, Kiaosha McGoughy, Kate Metroka, and Mione Future as Crystal, Chiffon and Ronnette.

One of many greatest points shouldn’t be certainly one of eagerness, however certainly one of readability. A lot of the actors discuss shortly and wrestle to make themselves heard. I’m positive this was not a problem for these sitting close to the entrance of the stage, however for these like me who sat close to the again, whole sentences had been misplaced. It grew to become a selected drawback throughout the Dentist’s demise, as I couldn’t make out a single phrase that Inexperienced uttered over the past whole minute of his track as a result of oxygen masks he was carrying. For a track with an ending punchline that depends on wordplay, you possibly can see how that may be a drawback.

It’s tough to say with productions like this whether or not the top consequence was a hit or not, on condition that success is just pretty outlined when measured towards the manufacturing’s intentions. What I’ll say, nonetheless, is that final week I reviewed a manufacturing of Macbeth on the Shakespeare Tavern, which I handled much less favorably than I’ve this manufacturing. I can not say that manufacturing was appreciably much less competent (actually, it might have been extra so), however I reviewed it poorly as a result of I felt that it did nothing to deepen or discover the story of Macbeth; it was content material in its basicness.

This manufacturing of Little Store of Horrors might have its stumbles, and it might at instances attain additional than price range or amenities permit, however I’ll all the time commend ambition, particularly when the top result’s gratifying sufficient for a bit pre-Halloween enjoyable.


Luke Evans is an Atlanta-based author, critic and dramaturg. He covers theater for ArtsATL and Broadway World Atlanta and has labored with theaters such because the Alliance, Actor’s Specific, Out Entrance Theatre and Woodstock Arts. He’s a graduate of Oglethorpe College, the place he earned his bachelor’s diploma, and the College of Houston, the place he earned his grasp’s.