Audrey II, the forever-ravenous plant from the hit musical Little Shop of Horrors, is flowering again, this time at the Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs. Inspired by Roger Corman’s 1960 comic horror flick, the ongoing life of the Howard Ashman-Alan Menken musical proves the truth of the show’s central premise: Humans may come and go, but the people-eating Audrey II is forever.
Stage Door’s new production of the 1982 Off-Broadway hit is, unsurprisingly, far more modest than the 2003 Broadway-bound version that had its out-of-town tryout at Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables. That one featured Broadway veterans and pricey design elements. This one, staged and choreographed by Dan Kelley, is simpler yet plenty entertaining, thanks to the material and a company of non-union actors with good voices.
Set on New York’s Skid Row, in a pathetically under-performing flower shop owned by the gruff Mr. Mushnik (a blustering Bob Levitt), Little Shop of Horrors follows the blooming love story of the shop’s two employees, the geeky Seymour (Michael Linden) and bottle-blond Audrey (Erica Lustig). Plenty of obstacles thwart the pair: Sales are nonexistent, Seymour worships Audrey from afar, and Audrey is a case study in low self-esteem. She also happens to have a sadistic boyfriend, dentist Orin Scrivello (Matthew William Chizever), who treats her like a pretty punching bag.
Salvation and doom appear in the form of a strange, attention-getting plant that Seymour dubs Audrey II, in honor of his beloved. Audrey II drives business to the shop and makes her discoverer Seymour famous. On the flip side, “she” develops the ability to talk in a distinctly deep voice, and what the rapidly growing gal says is chilling: Her favorite plant food is people, the bloodier the better. Uh-oh.
Horrible things happen, but Little Shop is a musical comedy, so Kelley and company keep the action bubbly.
Though the actors have to perform Ashman and Menken’s ‘60s-style score to recorded tracks, they sell the songs, particularly in the case of the girl-group street “urchins” Chiffon (Kassiopia DeVora), Crystal (Jasmin Richardson) and Ronnette (Amber Hurst-Martin). Linden and Lustig get all nerds-in-love on Suddenly Seymour, and Lustig is properly pitiable yet wistful as she imagines a better life on Somewhere That’s Green.
As usual, big-gal Audrey II is played by two guys. Curtis Roth manipulates her, and Marcus Davis does the voice. But it’s Chizever who earns MVP honors in Stage Door’s Little Shop, playing the demented dentist, a businessman-botanist and all manner of people (male and female) interested in Audrey II. A quick-changing chameleon who’s perfectly at home chewing the tacky scenery, Chizever works like fertilizer on the show, feeding it energy and a glorious goofiness.