There’s a spaceship in the rafters.
At least, it looks like one. It’s white and ovate with jagged, tooth-like pieces of metal, conspicuously dangling among the stage lights overhead. I spent fifteen minutes wondering how an alien encounter could possibly fit into my painstaking research on the musical, the entire half paragraph of a Wikipedia synopsis that I skimmed beforehand. Then the house lights went dark, the twisted, purple wall onstage split wide open and a soulful trio of Skid Row Supremes (Nicole Rashida Prothro, Alexandria Henderson, Naomi Morgan) launched into the opening number. From that point forward, I couldn’t peel my eyes away from the stage.
Turns out it isn’t a spaceship at all. It’s an enormous dental appliance that descends from the ceiling as an evil dentist, Orin Scrivello D.D.S. (David Anthony Lewis), slowly rises out from beneath the eerily animate stage floor to an erupting cloud of backlit fog and dramatic keyboard.
If this does not compel you to buy your tickets to the ACT and 5th Avenue’s Little Shop of Horrors immediately, allow me to rephrase:
This show is awesome. It might just be the best musical theater production I have ever seen.
The 5th Avenue Theatre could have added this to their regular playbill, and it would have been successful no doubt, but instead they opted to collaborate with ACT. The result combines the unique intimacy and ability of ACT’s Falls Theatre stage with the 5th Avenue’s all-out sets, big venue voices, and outstanding director Bill Berry.
According to Berry, “It has been a dream of mine to direct this show since the first time I saw it.”
This iteration of Little Shop of Horrors has the same love-at-first-sight contagion. Every little detail of this production, from the opening drum roll to mutant plant Audrey II’s (Ekello Harrid Jr, Eric Esteb) final burp, is delivered with the craft and care of a cast and crew dedicated to fully appreciating the comically poignant script. It’s hilarious and heartbreaking and unbelievably good all at once. But don’t just take it from me.
In the growled invitation of a wicked, overgrown flytrap, “you get everything your secret, greasy heart desires.”
See me, Seymour, see me!
Little Shop of Horrors
5th Avenue Theatre/ACT collaboration
March 8 - June 15