Crowds swarmed into Gifford Theatre from Feb. 24 to 28, as the EKU Theatre Department performed their production of Little Shop of Horrors, a comedy-horror musical originally written by Howard Ashman. I, personally, was pleasantly surprised with the Eastern’s take on the classic musical, directed by Professor Alana Ghent.
The musical features a clumsy young man named Seymour, played by Sean Sullivan, who was orphaned as a child and now lives in the inner-city. Seymour works in the destitute flower shop of Mr. Mushnik, played by Nicholas Hemlic, and loves his job. Seymour pines after his coworker, Audrey, played by Abi Moore, and attempts to impress her with a weird plant he happens upon, which he names Audrey II.
After much trial and error, he finds that the plant only responds to being fed fresh human blood. However, he cannot keep giving the plant his own blood, so he must search for the blood of others. He maintains the plant at its request by murdering those he deems worthy of death to further his fame and fortune in hopes of wooing Audrey. This causes some complications.
The talent within this play was obvious. Each character sang and spoke with clarity and precision. Each song was performed without a gimmick. The acting didn’t feel forced. From the audience’s perspective, it really felt like the actors were entirely their characters.
One of the more interesting parts of this production is Ghent’s choice to have Audrey II voiced by a woman, Joelle Camillo. Normally that part is given to a man. Camillo did incredibly well in this role, though, and really brought the man-eating plant puppet to life.
My absolute favorite character from the performance would be Orin, the sadistic dentist and abusive boyfriend of Audrey. His character was completely ridiculous, and the concept of a dentist who loves laughing gas and the pain of others is bound to be fun.
Dominique Norris did a great job in making his character dislikable, yet interesting, played Orin. His laugh was contagious and fun, but when he was angry, it was almost frightening. His role in the musical is crucial to Audrey and the character development alongside Seymour.
While the musical was fun and overall entertaining, it did tackle some issues I was not expecting. For instance, sexism served as a topical issue within the play. The character of Audrey is a staunch stereotype of femininity and the ideal female–which is made fun of throughout the musical. From Audrey’s dreams of frozen dinners to a chain-linked fence, her ideas of a perfect life are mediocre at best.
Watching the musical, I only had one issue: domestic abuse is frequently mocked throughout the subtext of Audrey’s storyline. But this isn’t something that can be taken up with the theatre department, and instead the playwright, so I’ll leave it be.
The music was catchy. The actors were talented. The set and Audrey II looked intricate. The best part: it was only $6.
EKU Theatre’s next performance will be The Little Prince, a renowned play based on the book of the same name, and I know I’ll be looking forward to it. For more information go to theatre.eku.edu.