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Published on September 23rd, 2013 | by Zamná Ávila

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Little Shop: Doesn’t Leave Room Dessert

By John Farrell, Curtain Call Writer

If the Kentwood Players gets any more ambitious, it is going to have to move to a bigger theater.

It did manage Leonard Bernstein’s Candide in the Westchester Theater recently, and other musicals as well. But its most recent productions just about overflows the small theater.

Little Shop of Horrors has been done elsewhere recently, and more productions are planned. It has been done better, but it has never been done with such energy, such a huge cast (and by huge we mean even by big theater standards) or with such audacity.

Go see it and be amazed yourself. More than 35 performers and puppeteers, plus a three piece combo back stage; that’s pretty much one performer for every two members of the audience. Even if nobody came the space would be crowded.

But people do want to come to hear the musical with book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken. It was a hit on Broadway in 1986 and now there is a whole industry apparently devoted to creating the plant Audrey II who grows on stage from a small plant to a huge man-eating giant.

The story is of a simple boy-meets girl, everyone gets eaten sort, with great songs interspersed along the way.

Seymour Krelborn (the too good-looking Brett Chapin) is the man who discovers Audrey II, — named after Audrey (the delightful Kristin Towers-Rowles) who works in Mr. Mushnik’s (Peter Miller) skid row flower shop.

Audrey is in an abusive relationship with Orin Scrivello DDS (Randy Brown), the first victim if the growing Audrey II. But Seymour wants to change all that. Ronnette (Elizabeth Adabale), Crystal (Amanda Majkrzak) and Chiffon (Brittney S. Wheeler) serve as the chorus for all these goings-on, singing and sashaying through skid row.

The story is based on the Roger Corman film, and the music, dressed in the rhythms of the 1960s. Doo-wop and early Motown has great charm.

“Suddenly Seymour” and “Somewhere That’s Green” are hits from the show, the latter sung by Towers-Rowles in a show-stopper number in the first act.

The music is provided by conductor and keyboardist Joshua Eli Kranz, drummer Anthony Barbarotta and Michael C. Flick of electric bass. And, they are a delight to listen to.

The puppeteers, from the single hand in Audrey II’s flower pot to the stage-wide, several-person crew that keeps the huge plant moving, are have a great time and show it. Yes, all the principles (except the plant) get eaten, but that’s show-biz.

Director Michael-Anthony Nozzi does a good job in choreography as well as direction. Joshua Eli Kranz does the musical and vocal direction.

Tickets are $23, with a $2 discount for students and seniors. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. though Oct. 19.

Details: (310) 645-5156www.kentwoodplayers.org
Venue:Westchester Playhouse
Address:8301 Hindry Ave., Los Angeles

 

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