Tuesday, April 21, 2015



If you garden, you know that having a green thumb is a distinct advantage.  If your plants have a liking for blood instead of the traditional water, plant fertilizer and sunshine, possessing a red thumb might be more of a help.  Just ask  the giant person-eating plant that grows and grows and grows larger and hungrier in Howard Ashman, book and lyrics, with Alan Menken's music, in the decidedly distinctive musical comedy "Little Shop of Horrors" inhabiting the stage of the Melissa and Doug Stage at the  Music Theatre of Connecticut in Norwalk until Sunday, May 3.

If you own a florist shop where no one purchases a bunch of daisies or daffodils, where pots of petunias wilt right before your eyes, when red roses are not requested even on Valentine's Day, you might be tempted to make a pact with the Jolly Green Devil to make your store profitable and plant happy.  When Audrey II makes a sudden appearance at Mr. Mushnik's Floral Skid Row Shop, everything looks like it's finally coming up roses.  Just at the moment when Mushnik (Lou Ursone) is ready to throw in his pruning shears, his meek and mild but intensely loyal clerk Seymour (Anthony DiCostanzo) shows him an unusual plant he has been cultivating, one that he found in Chinatown during a total eclipse of the sun. Seymour feels this new seedling is so different that it will attract visitors and, more importantly, customers, into the frequently empty store.

Seymour has a secret crush on the other employee, Audrey (Elissa DeMaria) so he names his new creation Audrey II.  The object of his affection has an unfortunate relationship with Orin (Tony Lawson, who takes a multitude of roles), a sadistic dentist of the first order of torture and drills.  His physical abuse makes him the perfect primary candidate as plant food when the ever expanding and always hungry Audrey Ii screams "Feed Me!"  Audrey Ii has been cleverly designed by Erin Flanagan Lind and Corey T. Lind, voiced by Peter McClung and puppeted by Will Strong.  To say that Audrey Ii commands the center of attention is a colorful understatement.

Accompanying this scientifically challenging tale is a Greek chorus of energetic singers - Inuka Ivaska, Kristian Espiritu and Gabrielle Lee - who have a lot of fun and flair in music and dance.  Tunes like Audrey's dream of "Somewhere That's Green," Orin's devilishly triumph of "Dentist!" and Seymour's emergence in the spotlight in "Suddenly, Seymour" help the story advance.  Kevin Connors directs this perfectly in tune and talented cast through this decidedly different musical offering.

For tickets ($30-50, $5 off for seniors and students), call MTC, 509 Westport Avenue, Norwalk (behind Nine West and Jones New York) at 203-454-3883 or online at www.musictheatreofct.com.  Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Think Venus Flytrap morphs into Moby Dick's mouth as Audrey II grows more and more demanding and Seymour tries frantically to answer her call.  Please keep all bandaged fingers safely tucked away.

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