Pleasure Woods will come again to the present, this time taking part in Audrey, as “Little Store” continues to cement its place within the off-Broadway scene.
“Little Store of Horrors” is a weird musical. The present makes use of a doo-wop type rating to inform the story of a struggling flower store in squalid Skid Row, whose luck turns round after an worker discovers a speaking and singing carnivorous plant. The plant, whom the employee names Audrey II, craves human flesh. Starting on Could 2, Pleasure Woods — the actress who initially performed narrator Chiffon when the revival first debuted in 2019 — will return to the musical because the protagonist’s love curiosity, Audrey.
New York theater is saturated with revivals, jukebox musicals and trite concepts. At face worth, this revival by the Westside Theatre might appear to be nothing to jot down residence about. Nonetheless, “Little Store of Horrors” stands out.
Within the present, protagonist Seymour (Matt Doyle) is compelled to kill folks to feed the plant, an endeavor that begins to eat him alive, all of the whereas bringing him fame and fortune. The musical simply will get weirder from there, as Audrey II is found to be a part of an alien species that’s searching for world domination.
The unique “Little Store of Horrors” opened off-Broadway in 1982 and was an instantaneous essential darling and fan favourite, successful the Drama Desk Award for Excellent Musical and turning into the highest-grossing off-Broadway present on the time. With a subsequent run on the West Finish, a well-liked movie adaptation starring Rick Moranis and Steve Martin, and a run on Broadway, the musical has established its personal legacy.
At this level, “Little Store” is a traditional, acquainted to many audiences. Regardless of its success, the musical feels rightly positioned in its off-Broadway residence. “Off-Broadway” has nothing to do with a theater’s geography, although almost each Broadway present is within the Instances Sq. space. The classification as an alternative comes from the variety of seats within the theater. Off-Broadway exhibits have 100-499 seats, whereas Broadway theaters have 500 or extra, and off-off-Broadway have lower than 100. It isn’t unusual for productions to maneuver up from one classification to a different — each “Hamilton” and “Pricey Evan Hansen” began as off-Broadway exhibits and labored their approach as much as the large leagues, as did “Little Store” in 2003.
Maybe it’s the small solid, or as a result of the present was initially written for the off-Broadway league, however the intimacy of the smaller theater feels applicable. Away from the crowds of vacationers, the manufacturing is prepared to be foolish and unusual in a approach that solely off-Broadway can. The present revival opened in late 2019 and closed mere months later resulting from COVID-19. Almost a yr and a half later, the manufacturing reopened, and it has been the crown jewel of the off-Broadway scene ever since. The small solid stands out for its rollicking performances that really feel bigger than life.
Doyle is implausible as Seymour, the charmingly awkward flower store employee. He’s spectacular within the function, bringing Seymour’s trademark awkwardness to life together with his exact mannerisms. Viewers members murmured about his exceptional capability to screw up his face, in an eerie impression of Moranis.
The addition of well-known “Euphoria” actor Maude Apatow to the function of Audrey could possibly be thought of as a plot to herald Era Z audiences. If that’s true, it actually labored. In comparison with the remainder of the corporate, Apatow is mediocre within the function. She reveals a really candy, virtually Disney princess-like voice, which works within the small house and matches Audrey’s demure character, however one needs she leaned extra into the weirdness of the play. Off-Broadway specifically lends itself to outsider artwork, but Apatow seems unwilling to situate her efficiency outdoors standard norms. Nonetheless, the actress does come into her personal in the course of the iconic duet “All of the sudden Seymour,” with a stronger belt that enhances Doyle’s strong tenor vibrato. It will likely be attention-grabbing to see which of those efficiency decisions proceed when Woods takes on the function in early Could.
Tony Award nominee Bryce Pinkham is a standout because the dentist, Orin Scrivello. The function is raucously humorous, with Pinkham’s iconic quantity “Dentist!” being a real spotlight of the present. Pinkham obtained the memo and bleeds eccentricity within the riotously over-the-top quantity, full with wonderful backing vocals by the corporate. Pinkham instructions the stage, taking his time to attract out his strains and gags for optimum laughs. He additionally performs a minimum of 4 supporting characters within the second act, wherein his comedic chops are on show much more.
Particular recognition have to be paid to the characters of Ronnette (D’Kaylah Distinctive Whitley), Crystal (Tiffany Renee Thompson) and Chiffon (newcomer Khadija Sankoh). They function the Greek refrain and shepherd us via the efficiency within the type of a Motown woman group. Not solely do they sing and dance, catchily infusing Alan Menken’s rating in each scene, however they’re lively characters on Skid Row, giving humor and levity to key scenes.
Aaron Arnell Harrington brings a devilish and deliciously low baritone to Audrey II. The crew members behind the plant deserve noting for his or her ingenious puppeteering work. Audrey II’s mechanisms will not be essentially groundbreaking, however audiences have been nonetheless shocked because the plant grew earlier than our eyes and moved concerning the house, full with dancing tentacles and a gaping maw.
The Audrey II puppeteers — doubled as ensemble members — have been introduced onstage for the bows. So too have been further crew members, which speaks to the manufacturing’s recognition of the contributions of every individual. Hopefully, this exhibits a altering tide in how productions acknowledge crew roles — or maybe that is only a function of off-Broadway, the place a star half means lower than being a part of a better entire.
The Westside Theatre revival of “Little Store” doesn’t reinvent the wheel, nor does it intention to. “Little Store” sticks to the story, songs and set in a approach that feels virtually too secure. The manufacturing serves as a reminder of what magic will be made with a small solid and crew in a small house. It’s comforting to have off-Broadway again as a spot the place playing around is widely known and singing crops can conquer planet Earth.
Contact Kara Pauley at [email protected]