Monday, September 26, 2016



Bouquets of flowers, daisies or daffodils, lilacs or lilies, are a welcome gift for any one who is sick, celebrating a birthday, getting married or, unhappily, being laid to rest.  Florists are called upon to arrange tulips and roses, baby's breath or carnations in pleasing assortments for a multitude of occasions.  What happens, however, when the bell over the door doesn't chime, when the leaves on the philodendron turn brown, when even the cacti look wilted and dry?  Just ask Mr. Mushnik of the Skid Row Floral Emporium whose business is in real danger of closing its doors forever.

To meet Mushnik and his loyal employees Seymour and Audrey, skip on over to West Hartford's Playhouse on Park by Sunday, October 16 to enjoy the musical comedy "Little Shop of Horrors" by Howard Ashman, with music by Alan Menken.

Steven Mooney's Seymour is a loyal albeit nebishy orphan who has been cared for by Mushnik, allowed and encouraged to sweep and clean the floral establishment.  One day on the occasion of a solar eclipse, while Seymour is visiting a Chinese man, he is sold a strange and exotic plant for $1.95 that he names Audrey II, after the gal he fancies at the shop.  Like an experimental botanist, Seymour nurtures the new foliage that does not respond to the usual requirements like sun, soil, potash and fertilizer.

Seymour keeps testing what will make Audrey II thrive and accidentally discovers the secret food formula the plant craves: blood.  While a trio of cute singers, like a Greek chorus - Cherise Clarke, Brandi Porter and Famecia Ward - offer encouragement, Seymour's involvement in Audrey  II escalates dangerously.

Damian Buzzerio's Mr. Mushnik suddenly finds himself with a blooming business success.  Everyone wants to see the crazy new plant in the store window.  The other employee, a sweet tempered Audrey, captured by Emily Kron, is in the throes of a dilemma:  her boyfriend Orin abuses her.  Orin, a devilishly sadistic Aidan Eastwood, is a dentist who gets off on inflicting pain on his girlfriend.  That puts him high on the list of becoming plant food, a hearty meal, for Audrey II.

Clearly even the meekest of men will move mountains and molehills for their sweethearts and Seymour is no exception, even if it means making a pact with a fiendish plant.  As the Venus Fly Trap- like growth becomes Jack in the Beanstalk in size, so does its thirsty need for the red stuff. Songs like "Somewhere That's Green" and "Suddenly Seymour" blossom with charm...but can Seymour live with what he has created?  Susan Haefner directs and choreographs this unique offering, with Rasheem Ford voicing Audrey II and Susan Slotoroff manipulating the hungry plant.

For tickets ($35-50), call Playhouse on Park, 247 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900, ext.10, or online at  Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

You don't need a green thumb to enjoy "Little Shop of Horrors" but if Seymour offers you a Band-aid run for the door.


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