Entertainment

Review: Little Shop of Horrors well stocked with social messages

Do-wap trio Tai Williams (left), Danielle Tjia, and Hannah Reynolds lend background vocals to  Shawnigan Lake School
Do-wap trio Tai Williams (left), Danielle Tjia, and Hannah Reynolds lend background vocals to Shawnigan Lake School's message-marinated musical Little Shop Of Horrors.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Little Shop Of Horrors is rooted in far more than girl meets boy raising blood-thirsty plant.

Despite Friday's mike problems, those musical morals came through loud and clear in Shawnigan Lake School's Wilkinson Theatre.

Viewers willing to dig deeper for social symbolism found plenty in SLS's comic-tragedy led by director Samantha Currie, and backed by music-director Shannon Tyrrell's dextrous stage band.

Think Sweeny Todd meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers as greedy egotists fall prey to Cowichan's biggest prop — a people-eating eggplant ordering naive, skied-row florist Seymour to 'Feed me!"

We sure didn't mind when demonic dentist Orin (Michale Kim) is dinner for Audrey II. Orin personified every abusive boyfriend — while blonde airhead Audrey (Shanti Thurber) mirrored gals who stay with those jerks.

Her brand of needless masochism — played with Marilyn-Monroe moxie — was underlined as Little Shop's super-charged trio (Tai Williams, Danielle Tjia, Hannah Reynolds) scratched through Orin's mean veneer that gave Audrey a shiner and an arm-sling for her low self-esteem.

While laughing-gas addict Orin exhibited the evils of drugs, Seymour went from penniless nerd to Audrey's shining knight.

Their love gave hope to meek geeks and bashful bimbos everywhere.

Too bad Seymour yielded to fortune and fame's temptations from big TV network; he liked being the guy who found and raised New York's most strange (possibly alien) plant.

But Seymour's life slides sideways after making a Faustian deal with the devil weed he's raising.

The carnivorous carnation (Fanah Msubo, Cassia Nasralla, Max Kaumeyer), bent on populating the world, clearly showed us the mad consequences of tinkering with nature.

The gobbling garden ghoul gets the last bite when kind-hearted Audrey is sacrificed by Seymour to his vicious vegetable. Too bad for too nice.

Losing Audrey proves too much for suffering Seymour. Realizing the error of his selfish ways, he follows her, and greedy shopkeep Mr. Mushnik (Isaac Higgins), down jive-talkin' Audrey II's hungry gullet.

Little Shop is a happy, prime example of how artistic pearls of wisdom can be found by those looking under a seeming surface of 'Seen this stuff before.'

Two teeth up for Norma Bowen's nifty costumes, James O'Leary's swiveling sets, and Gregg Perry's adept sound and light work.

Little Shop Of Horrors runs Jan. 19 at 2 p.m. Visit shawnigan.ca/tickets.

Black-comedy musical play rating: 8 pints out of 10.

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