‘Little Shop’ big on entertainment

Posted 7/28/12

A clever musical spoof of a 1960 horror movie, “Little Shop of Horrors,” written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, is an ideal choice for …

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‘Little Shop’ big on entertainment

Posted

A clever musical spoof of a 1960 horror movie, “Little Shop of Horrors,” written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, is an ideal choice for Phamaly’s annual summer production, with a great score, lots of kooky characters and unexpected plot twists.

Director Steve Wilson, choreographer Debbie Stark and her daughter Ronnie Gallup, and lively musical director Donna Debreceni are experienced in making it all work together, and each year the Phamaly production seems more professional.

Phamaly is the Physically Handicapped Actors and Musical Artists League, which is celebrating its 23rd season. Cast member Kathleen Traylor is an original member and Mark Disette came on board for the first production of “Guys and Dolls” in 1990.

Five minutes into the production, one forgets about any disabilities and absorbs the cast’s pure joy in presenting such a goofy story.

Not to be overlooked: puppet maker Cory Gilstrap’s continually hungry, fast-growing Audrey II, an amazing series of puppets — all sightless, Wilson observes in his director’s notes.

Sightless actor Don Mauck provides Audrey II’s rocker voice and presence, assisted by mother-daughter puppeteers Mariah and Molly Becerra.

Nerdy Seymour (Daniel Traylor) is smitten with pretty Audrey (Kathi Woods). The two work in cranky Mr. Mushnik’s (Mark Dissette) failing flower shop on Skid Row, which is introduced by a Greek Chorus of Ronettes as lights go up on Act I. In the background a cast of gritty Skid Row characters wanders the streets.

The Ronettes reappear often to help the story along.

Seymour buys an unusual plant and names it Audrey II, displaying it in the shop window to attract customers, which it certainly does.

Meanwhile, Audrey has been dating an evil, bad-tempered dentist, Orin Scrivello, played with gusto by Jeremy Palmer. This character is just over-the-top nasty—fun for the actor and the audience.

And it further develops that Audrey II, the plant, has a taste for blood, which can surely lead to no good.

Wilson’s notes make a valid comparison between Faust, the poet who sold his soul to the devil, and poor Seymour, whose life spins out of control — another nod to classical theater, as is the Greek chorus of Ronettes.

“Little Shop of Horrors,” a perennial favorite among musicals fans, plays through Aug. 5 — perfect light summer fare for anyone old enough to not take it seriously.

If you go

“Little Shop of Horrors,” presented by Phamaly at the Space Theatre, Denver Center for the Performing Arts Complex. Performances through Aug. 5: 7:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Monday, July 30; 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets, $30-$34, with senior/student/military discount; $17/July 30. 303-893-4100, phamaly.org.

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