Book by Howard Ashman
Produced by La Costa Theatre & Steve Cohen
At La Costa Theatre Chicago
Sound issues mar otherwise fine production of Little Shop of Horrors
La Costa Theatre is adapt at mounting pop/rock musicals and their latest, Little Shop of Horrors could be a terrific show once they solve a couple of major sound problems. All cast members wore microphones yet I had trouble hearing the key players since their micks were either not working or they were set too low. Once actors have mics they don’t seem to project or speak as loud as they would do if they had no amplification. That sure was the case here. Much of the lyrics were inaudible especially from the Audrey, Mr. Mushnick and Seymour. The music drowned them out. If this is immediately corrected than this show will be terrific. I’d advise the actors to project more and not depend on the mics.
The other problem that threatens this production is one that is becoming a disease in storefront theatre: actors running the words together in a too rapid speech pattern as if they were leading a tobacco auction. Ashley Bush (Audrey) and Scott Mills (The Dentist) spoke so fast that they were hard to understand. Slow down and enunciate, please.
Now the good parts in Little Shop of Horrors. The orchestra, under Ryan Brewster’s direction, was excellent and not too loud. They made Menken’s score soar. Jonathan Hymen played the nerdy Seymour with gusto. Ashley Bush, as Audrey and Peter Verdico, as Mr. Mushnick offered sincere performances. The chorus of Irene Parino, Jill Valentine and Erin Elle East sang their hearts out.
Little Shop of Horrors is the tragic love story of the hapless nerdy Seymour who becomes an overnight media sensation once he discovers a carnivorous plant “Audrey II.” The skid row folks are vividly depicted in almost cartoonist characters garnering the dark humor the Howard Ashman’s book contains. The desperation of Seymour and Ashley sings well and offers rich comedy bits. I enjoyed this spirited production. It doesn’t take itself too seriously yet it honestly depicted Seymour’s troubles and Audrey II’s voracious appetite for blood. Camp rules in this 60’s pop/rock styled musical. It is work seeing. I’m sure the folks at La Costs have solved the sound issues by now.
At La Costa Theatre, 3931 N. Elston. Ave., Chicago, IL, call 866-468-3401, tickets $25. $15 for students/seniors, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours with intermission.