by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Panic Productions is offering an update on the horror cult classic rock musical, Little Shop of Horrors by bringing it back from the streets of Skid Row, New York to smack dab in the middle of its original (film) home on Skid Row, Los Angeles.

Based on the 1960 cult classic film by Roger Corman and Charles Griffith, Little Shop of Horrors is the macabre, black comedy of meek flower shop assistant Seymour, who pines for co-worker Audrey. During a total eclipse, he discovers that an unusual plant, which he has named Audrey II, feeds only on human flesh and blood.

The music, composed by Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman in the style of early 1960s rock and roll, doo-wop, and early Motown, includes several well-known tunes, notably the title song, Skid Row (Downtown), Somewhere That’s Green, and Suddenly, Seymour.

Having never seen the original musical, nor the film, experiencing this production on its own merit entirely was an intriguing prospect but not without expectation.

As a classic movie musical equipped with so many recognizable songs there is the assumption that you’ll hear powerfully belted voices, quippy comedy, and exhilarating choreography, at the very least. Panic Productions rendition is not too far off the mark, but not always quite on it.

Starring Elijah Malcomb as Seymour and Catriona Fray as Audrey, the play is sweet and adorable, as is the chemistry between Malcomb and Fray. But it’s not always strong. The original theme of Seymour’s greed is replaced by a rather affable boy who seems to suffer more from bad decision-making, and oops-he-did-it-again, rather than a marked grab for more.

Some of the best scenes are driven by the ensemble cast, Seymore’s failed attempt to murder Audrey’s sadistic dentist boyfriend being the most deliciously grisly.

The biggest highlight of this production is the choreography by Tyler Matthew Burke who puts the big musical brew-ha into the practically postage-stamp space. It’s quite brilliant varietally and exceptionally fun.

This production has some flaws, but the long and the short of it is that, it’s a great time.

Directed by J. Bailey Burcham
Musical Direction by Josh Bednarsky

Also with Trae Adair, Lora Hakanson, Cariel Hughes, Fay James, Terika Jefferson, Mookie Johnson, Jokull Jonsson, Allison Martinez, Paul Panico, Olivia Van Den Berg, Rile Reavis, and Lindsay Zana.