“All I ever wanted was you and a sweet little house.”
The line, from a stand-out production of “Little Shop of Horrors”, heading into its final weekend at the North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck, may well encapsulate all the dreams and yearning, hope and promise that sends one young man, wishing fervently for his own happily ever after, down a dark path marked by danger.
The show, written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, tells the well-loved story of “meek” floral assistant Seymour Krelborn, who “stumbles across a new breed of plant he names Audrey II, after his co-worker crush,” according to a description of the show by the NFCT.
“This foul-mouthed, R&B-singing carnivore promises unending fame and fortune to the down-and-out Seymour as long as he keeps feeding it what it wants. Over time, though, Seymour discovers Audrey II’s out-of-this-world origins and true intent and sets out to put things right.”
A favorite amongst theatergoers, “Little Shop” is reborn at the NFCT in a performance that draws the audience in with heartfelt emotion and laugh-out-loud humor.
According to director Mary Motto Kalich, who displays her topnotch skills in this production, “Little Shop” is often described as a “sci-fi” musical, “which may conjure up ideas of robots, and space travel…”
A self-professed science fiction fan, Kalich says the magic she finds within the genre lies in the “vibrant stories about real people. And their relationships with each other and the world. The fantastical background that the stories are set in allow the basic human elements like love, community, sadness and hope to shine through.”
“Little Shop,” she added, is a perfect example. “As you sit back and laugh and enjoy watching a man-eating plant devour your fellow humans, take a look at how real the needs and wants and hopes of our ‘Little Shop’ characters are. They, like us, want more out of life; they desperately want to be loved, and sometimes they make one choice, that leads to another, and before you know it. . . . ”
The spectacular talents of the stellar cast lend sparkle to the show’s rich book and score. Mike Hipp as Seymour is an earnest, hardworking young man who’s searched his whole life for the nurturing of parents he’s never known, and who has fallen hopelessly in love with his Audrey, played in a start turn by Rebecca Edana.
Rick Peters imbues his Mushnik — the shop owner dazzled by dollar signs who sees the ever-growing “Audrey II” as a means to the elusive success he’s been chasing for decades in his struggling flower shop — with gruff heart. His money-grubbing exterior belies his tender-hearted concern for an abused Audrey.
When the tiny green plant continues to grow. . .and grow. . and grow, Mushnik orders Seymour to do whatever he can to keep the plant flourishing and money pouring in, as reporters, international media, and a sea of customers descend on Skid Row for their taste of the spotlight.
What he doesn’t know is that Audrey II needs to feed. On human blood. And the tendrils of her grasping need leave no one untouched by the hilarious horror.
It must be said that Audrey II could easily be deemed the star of this production. Puppeteer Cait Jacobs and Christoper Fretto as the plant’s deep, demanding, devouring voice, work together in seamless harmony to create a character that has audiences simultaneously roaring with laughter and shrinking in their seats as the evil plant handily consumes the cast.
The show marks the return to the stage of Kelli Baumann, well known for her theatrical efforts as an educator at Southold High School, who lends her soaring voice to the proverbial table.
Musical director Dee Laveglia brings the familiar score to vibrant life, with heart-stopping moments including Edana’s “Somewhere That’s Green,” and Raven Janoski, as Chiffon, Kelsey Cheslock, as Crystal, and Baumann, as Ronette, raising the roof with their rendition of “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Da-Doo.” “Suddenly Seymour” leaves no eyes dry in the house.
Special props go to Matthew O’Connor, whose vile, girlfriend-beating, sadistic dentist is somehow uproariously funny due to the vast array of inherent talents in his wheelhouse. It’s impossible to resist his demoniacal laugh, and the audience feels his absence when he meets his untimely demise.
The cast, which also includes Matt Eager and John Lovett, works together in tight harmony; the level of talent on the stage is second to none in this top-of-the-line production.
Produced by Liz Liszanckie and choreographed by Kim Shafer, with a colorful and engaging set designed by Bob Kaplan and Michele Messinger, lighting design by David Scheer and costume design by Dee Andes, the show is another gem in NFCT’s considerable chest of treasures.
This weekend is the last; don’t miss the chance to see a Broadway-caliber production, close to home.
Performances will be held at 8 p.m. on November 12, 13 and 14, and at 2:30 p.m. on November 15.
Tickets cost $20, with student rush tickets, $15, offered 10 minutes before curtain time, if available. Call 631-298-NFCT for a ticket or a full-season subscription. To order tickets online, click here.
The North Fork Community Theatre is located at 12700 Sound Avenue in Mattituck.