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Theater Review: “Little Shop of Horrors”

“Little Shop of Horrors” plays through August 4, 2019 at New Village Arts, 2787 State Street, Carlsbad.
Photo credit:
Daren Scott

Watch out. That man-(and woman)-eating plant with the enormous red mouth and insatiable appetite is back to menace the curious and the unwary.

Yes, it’s “Little Shop of Horrors,” directed by AJ Knox and playing through Aug. 4 at Carlsbad’s New Village Arts.

By now, most people have seen one or another version of this crazy show by Howard Ashman with music and lyrics by Alan Menken.

Knox decided to change it up a bit by casting Melissa Fernandes as Mushnik, owner of Mushnik’s flower shop, dying on the vine for customers because of its unfortunate location on Skid Row.

But if the shop goes down, the young clerks – nerdy little Seymour (Sittichai Chaiyahat) and lovely Audrey (Cashae Monya) will lose their jobs.

Seymour proposes to place a peculiar little plant he picked up somewhere in the front window to stir up interest. The plant is green and spiny and unlike any other. Seymour is sweet on Audrey, so he names it Audrey II. But he needs something more to make her notice him.

“Somebody gimme my shot or I’m gonna rot in here,” he says, reminiscent of that other musical everybody knows.

Along for the ride are the doo-wop trio of Chiffon (Patricia Jewel), Crystal (Natasha Baenisch) and Ronnie (Chris Bona), who liven things up (as if a human-eating plant weren’t enough).

It works. In comes a man who wants to buy Audrey, but instead takes $100 worth of red roses. Ah, maybe the shop will survive after all.

Meanwhile, Seymour still wants a date with Audrey, but she unfortunately has a sadistic motorcycle-riding boyfriend, a dentist named Orin (played hilariously by Philip David Black).

When the media get wind of the plant story, there’s no holding Seymour back. He’s booked for one interview after another, even offered his own TV gardening show. Mushnik even offers – nay, insists on – adopting him so she can call the shop “Mushnik and Son” and leave it to him.

Life is perfect, right? But will Seymour ever get Audrey away from that monster the dentist?

You know the answer to that. This is a musical, after all.

But don’t let familiarity keep you away from this terrific show.

The cast is outstanding all around, Doug Cumming’s set terrific, Amanda Quivey’s costumes eye-popping, Audrey II (especially the later incarnation) huge and hilarious, Tony Houck’s five-man band boffo. You can’t go wrong. Kudos to all, particularly director/adaptor AJ Knox.

The details

“Little Shop of Horrors” plays through August 4, 2019 at New Village Arts, 2787 State Street, Carlsbad.

Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tickets: (760) 433-3245 or www.newvillagearts.org