Little Shop of Horrors
by Arab Musical Theatre

It’s easy to find green in Nebraska, where the International Thespian Festival opened with Arab Musical Theatre’s production of Little Shop of Horrors. But it ain’t so easy finding Somewhere That’s Green when you live near the gutter of Skid Row. Perhaps the meek flower shop worker Seymour and his sweet co-worker Audrey can find such a heavenly abode thanks to Audrey’s namesake – a strange and unusual plant that Seymour found and named “Audrey II.” Then again, the title of this show is Little Shop of Horrors. So you better beware of such strange and unusual plants.

DJ Neal plays a very meek, somewhat nerdy Seymour who finds himself suddenly famous thanks to Audrey II. DJ has a good, understated sense of humor that works well in several scenes – like when he discovers the plant’s thirst for human blood and when his boss proposes to adopt him (to keep the plant in the family). Opposite him is a hilarious Haley Clemons as Audrey I, filling the role with great comic timing, facial expressions, and amusing little noises. Just her efforts to entertain herself in the customer-less flower shop turned into one of the hit scenes of the show. And she’s got a terrific voice as well, which we see most notably in her big solo Somewhere That’s Green that she sings alternately in her real voice and in the classic Audrey voice (using the Audrey voice for most of the cute, amusing lines), her singing capturing the humor and even some of the touching poignancy of the song. And despite several opening-night problems with the sound system (especially Seymour’s mike), their duet Suddenly Seymour was magnificent. It must have worked for Seymour and Audrey as well, for they celebrate it by getting caught up in a major make-out session.

Steven Bombino. Photo by Arab-Today.comAnd then there’s the other guy that Audrey kisses. Usually while handcuffed. The bad boy, semi-sadist Orin Scrivello. Doctor Orin Scrivello. And Steven Bombino is as good as it gets – a crazed and charismatic dentist hooked on nitrous oxide with a love for rusty, dull, antique dental tools (he mimics the sound of an electric motor as he lovingly cranks his antique drill). Steven nails the humor and vocals of both his Elvis-ish Dentist song (where he reminisces on Momma telling her sadistic son that he needs a job where he can cause people pain), and in his more difficult It’s Just the Gas that he sings while suffocating in laughing gas, doing so with originality, a little bit of fear, and a lot of humor (when describing the “gas that turns me on,” he’s titillating himself by lightly fingering his chest).

Elsewhere, Chase Stewart does terrific work backstage as the voice of the evil plant you love to hate, as well as making an appearance in human form as a transvestite bum. Mr. Mushnik (Matt Smith) does a nice job adopting Seymour in Mushnik and Son (featuring amusing choreography by Telisha Montgomery). The Doo-Wop girls (Lindsay Keith, Kylee Parks, and Chelsea Green) add energy to their scenes, with some good lead vocals by Lindsay and humor from the dynamic Kylee Parks. The ensemble delivers a good intro to life on Skid Row.

Director Brian Quillin (who performed at the Festival in 1994 when he was in high school) has put together a strong show both visually and performance-wise, with many splashes of clever humor. Ron Harris’s costumes for Audrey (lots of pinks and blacks) and the Doo-Wop girls are creative. Paula Meinjohans’s impressive set includes a cobweb-covered cash register and a large Audrey II whose tongue can slither out when tantalized. The small band rocks. And Director Brian Quillin did the lights with some good effects, including using a green light for the end of Somewhere That’s Green, bringing a smile to the hopeful, daydreaming Audrey I.

Performed June 25, 2007.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~
Chelsea Green, Kylee Parks, and Lindsay Keith. Photo by Arab-Today.comSeymour: DJ Neal
Audrey: Haley Clemons
Mr. Mushnik: Matt Smith
Orin/Skip Snip: Steven Bombino
Voice of Audrey II: Chase Stewart
Ronnette: Lindsay Keith
Chiffon: Kylee Parks
Crystal: Chelsea Green
Mr. Bernstein: Michael Chamblee
Mrs. Luce: Elizabeth Santos
Patrick Martin/Bum: Mikie Warrick
Mr. Chang: Amber Fawcett
Bag Lady: Jessica Avery
Rebecca Cannell
Lauren Crider
Rachel Matthews
Blake Nail
Storm Taylor
Blake Rees
Jacob Robertson

Director: Brian Quillin
Costume Designer: Ron Harris
Sound Design/Technician: Rhett Miller
Choreographer: Telisha Montgomery
Lighting Design: Brian Quillin
Scenic Design: Paula Meinjohans
Stage Manager: Michael Hang


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