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Down on skid row, the luck is thin, but Seymour's fate has just taken a turn. Mrs. Mushnik, played by sophomore Kathleen Myers, has announced that she is closing her flower shop, when Seymour, played by Matthew Hager, introduces an experimental plant he's been working on. Instantaneously the beaten-down, falling-apart flower shop has a second lease on life. Audrey II – named after the lovely Audrey who works in the flower shop with Seymour – and its uniqueness attracts press attention. As Seymour's fame rises and Audrey's admiration for him becomes more evident, Seymour has to find a way to keep this plant alive. Unfortunately, the plant wants only blood – human blood.
Little Shop of Horrors at Meredith College has been playing to sold out houses since its opening on Thursday, March 27. With an impressive company of actors, cohesive and efficient design, and all-over high-quality production values, this streak of sold-out shows will likely continue.
Audrey, played by senior Rose Turchi, pairs well with Hager's Seymour, and the duo are every bit adorable. With comedic timing and strong voices, Turchi and Hager are excellent in these leading roles.
Supported by Myers, Mark Olexik, playing the sadist dentist Orin, the Doo Wop girls (senior Christina Hunt, sophomore Elaina Mittleman, and junior Sara Owens), and a promising freshman, Nicole Benjamin, as the voice of Audrey II, the cast delivers a fun musical that shows evidence of strong direction by Professor Steven Roten and musical support coordinated by Dr. Jim Waddelow. Though Audrey II and Mushnik are typically male roles, no quality is lost with these young women.
Little Shop's plot turns quickly in just a lyric of a song, which makes it imperative, as with any musical, that each actor be heard. The orchestra, a rocking quartet with guitar, bass, keyboard, and drums, occasionally drowned out an actor's lines and lyrics, which in turn made it hard to follow the story consistently. While the score is well played and you leave feeling like you've heard a great concert, it's counterproductive at times.
Costume design by Professor LeGrande Smith, hair and makeup design by sophomore Karyn Raynor, and scenic and lighting design by Professor Lex van Blommestein enhance the production, while the puppet design (that's the "feed me" plant, of course) by senior Katy Koop and Lex van Blommestein truly make this show. With various sizes as Audrey II grows, the puppet construction crew had large tasks and high iconic standards to meet. Overall the entire production value of Meredith's Little Shop is impressive – and the sold-out shows are proof that the good news is spreading.
Little Shop of Horrors at Meredith College continues until Sunday, April 6 with evening shows at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday's show at 3:00 p.m. See the sidebar for details. To reserve tickets call 919/760-2840 or email firstname.lastname@example.org before all the seats are gone.
Note; The show is being presented in Meredith College's Studio Theater, beneath Jones Auditorium.