WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE: Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
WHEN: 4/8, press night 10/8, runs to 25/8/18 NOTE: Extended to 22/9/18
RUNTIME: 2 hours and 5 minutes (including 20 minute interval)
Drag queen Vicky Vox (pictured above) makes her theatrical debut here as the voice of the mysterious plant named Audrey II which is hungry for blood at the heart of this fun-packed musical revival.
- Read on for reasons including how Julian Clary and Strictly‘s Ian Waite featured
When Julian Clary’s is the voice of the prologue and Strictly‘s Ian Waite is in the audience, a sense of what we are about to receive should immediately become apparent.
And so it is here at one of our new favourite venues as director Maria Aberg’s outrageous vision of this Howard Ashman and Alan Menken (Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Beauty And The Beast and Aladdin) musical of a Roger Corman film becomes clear.
This is the story of geek plant shop worker Seymour (Marc Antolin, very impressive) who is secretly in love with co-worker Audrey (we’d enjoyed Jemima Roper before in Hand Of God and Midsummer Night’s Dream but she comes into her own here) who discovers an unusual plant that transforms the fortunes of his Skid Row florist.
It is the casting of Vox, a member of the band Tranzkuntinental, in her 1st stage role that is the absolute making of this show however. She’s essentially Divine‘s sassier and more fabulous daughter.
This was only a preview and we’d advise Ms Vox to relax and enjoy it a little more – and that she can get away with even more of what’s she’s bringing to this absolute blast of a performance. It was as her cries of ‘Feed me’ grew wilder in the 2nd half and she scratched at her crotch with a pitchfork that we realised that we wanted her to be even more outlandish.
It’s a role that’s more than matched by Matt Willis from Busted as the evil dentist boyfriend of Audrey’s who boasts a maniacal laugh and fondness for nitrous oxide that renders him pure Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest goes Twin Peaks.
Fans of the musical can rest easy that despite all this scene-stealing the romance at its heart, and the score’s best song, Suddenly Seymour, remains as moving as ever.
Special mention to Skid Row street girls Renée Lamb, Christina Modestou and Seyi Omooba who absolutely boss their roles and bring a real sense of location to the early part of the show. We also loved the skyscrapers in shopping trolleys that the cast wheel about.
Forbes Masson as shop owner Mr Mushnik is especially good value and we’re amazed at how much we’ve seen him in over the last few years, including Summer And Smoke, Big Fish, Travesties, Doctor Faustus, Mr Foote’s Other Leg and The Ruling Class.
The Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre has a tradition of its musicals being Olivier Award-nominated and we wouldn’t bet against Little Shop Of Horrors featuring in 2019’s show. If we hadn’t already compiled our half-year musicals best of, it would certainly appear there.
We also very much enjoyed the picnic hamper in the grounds of the venue before and at the interval of the show.
The audience leapt to its feat in acclaim at the show’s conclusion (we think the song was called Mean Green Mutha’, and if it wasn’t it should’ve been) in a flurry of beach balls into the audience and fantastical plant-based costumes.
In fact, a park was a particularly well thought out setting for this cross between Day Of the Triffids and Rocky Horror Show.
It was an absolute riot at this early preview and we expect by press night and the time you see it (and you should!) it will have grown into something even more outrageously entertaining and untamed.