Venice Little Theatre’s Little Shop of Horrors feels shopworn.
By Kay Kipling
Little Shop of Horrors has long been a show with “legs,” as they say in the business. The off-Broadway hit breezily adapted from the 1950s low-budget sci-fi movie has been circulating among local theaters for some time now, usually with pleasing results. But something about Venice Little Theatre’s current production feels mechanical or uninspired, detracting from the fun.
It’s not that the staging, by director Brad Wages, is off or lazy; he makes good use of VLT’s stage, bigger than usual for this show, to present us with the shop’s Skid Row surroundings and its denizens. And it’s not that the leads, Jason Kimble as nerdy orphan Seymour, who discovers that man-eating plant Audrey II, and Renee Cordonnier as his less leafy love, the original Audrey, can’t sing; they can. Their voices are fine, and they go through the motions, but there’s no chemistry there, and we don’t get involved with their characters the way we should. That means a duet like Suddenly, Seymour doesn’t really touch us in addition to mildly amusing us. And Cordonnier’s plea for a home Somewhere That’s Green doesn’t really affect us, either.
There are still entertaining moments, to be sure, most of them revolving around that voracious plant (voiced by Dorian Boyd and operated by Jeremy Stone) as it demands more victims, including shop owner Mushnik (Steve Credeur) and Audrey’s brutish boyfriend (Mike Griffith, in a ridiculous pompadour and a performance that doesn’t quite make it but gets credits for trying). And the urchin/girl group singers, Ela Kitapci, Lainie Kates and Lauren Kelly, are intermittently engaging, too. Overall, though, the evening feels unsatisfying.
Little Shop plays through Nov. 25 at VLT; for tickets call 488-1115 or go to venicestage.com.