Melbourne season: Little Shop of Horrors

The only down side of the Little Shop of Horrors Melbourne season is that it’s only three weeks.

Brent Hill with Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors, Melbourne 2016. Image by Belinda Strodder
Brent Hill with Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors, Melbourne 2016. Image by Belinda Strodder

The sci-fi schlock musical by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken (who went onto Disney fame) about a blood-loving plant changing the fate of miserable florist shop workers Seymour and Audrey was inspired by a 1960 film, opened off-Broadway in 1982, and a film of the musical was made in 1986. This version blew Sydney away at the Hayes Theatre earlier in the year and is touring Australia.

The same team that created Sweet Charity at Hayes – Dean Bryant (direction), Andrew Hallsworth (choreography), Andrew Worboys (musical direction), Owen Phillips (design), Ross Graham (lights) and Tim Chappel (costumes) – cut back all dead ideas and preconceptions to grow a fresh, exciting and bloody brilliant version that makes it feel like it were written for now.

Totally over the top, it embraces the ridiculousness and the darkness of the story and by doing so, lets it find its own truth and makes the characters so real that the opening-night audience exploded at the end of “Suddenly Seymour”, the show’s shmaltzy love song.

Working with Erth Visual & Physical’s magnificent, terrifying and all genital inflatable Audrey II plant, Phillips and Chappel’s set and costumes are inspired by the 60s but not stuck in the past. They take us from a tiny black and white telly world – complete with Lee Lin Chin – to blooming, 3D, who-turned-up-the-contrast colour.

And everyone in the cast (Brent Hill, Esther Hannaford, Tyler Coppin, Scott Johnson, Josie Lane, Chloe Zuel, Angelique Cassimatis, Dash Kruck, Kuki Topoki) makes the characters so much their own that comparisons to anyone who has gone before them are impossible.

Anyone who says that “audiences” want to see the same old safe musicals that they’ve always seen needs to see what happens when a show is stripped back to book and music, and new creators are allowed to see what they can make from it.

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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