The Farmington Players stage now resembles a Little Shop of Horrors, as one of the longest-running Off-Broadway shows in history comes to the Barn, April 27-May 19.
In this classic musical, Seymour the naive floral assistant, played by Jason Wilhoite of Commerce Township, discovers an exotic plant (Audrey II) that sprouts like Jack’s Beanstalk. Audrey II offers Mushnick, the hapless flower shop owner played by Barry Cutler of Ferndale, the magic of its “Midas touch.” But the plant can only thrive if Seymour quenches its thirst for blood.
Can the timid “schmuck” with a green thumb master the man-eater before it munches on everyone he knows?
“Bring Back The Creepy”
The show's music, by Alan Menken, and story, by Howard Ashman, mix rock, doo-wop and early Motown soul with a campy and macabre script. Director Rachael Rose of Waterford Township doubles as Music Director for the show. Rose says her goal is to “bring back the creepy from the original movie into the campy of the musical.”
Little Shop opened off-Broadway in 1982, and eventually racked up more than 2,000 performances. It hit the big screen in 1986, with Steve Martin as the pyscho Dentist and Rick Moranis as Seymour. But Little Shop is actually based on a Roger Corman black comedy from 1960, a spoof of old Sci-Fi films, with Jack Nicholson playing a masochistic Dental Patient in one of his first films. Gary Weinstein of Farmington Hills handles that role at the Barn.
Rose says the Farmington Players version of Little Shop will take people on an “eerie journey” that she describes as “more creepy and edgy than campy.” Playing a character desperately in love with his co-worker Audrey (Taylor Alfano of Livonia), Wilhoite starred last season at the Barn as “Leo Bloom” in The Producers. In Little Shop, he performs his third comic duet with Cutler, as the pair tango their way through “Mushnick & Son.”
Both Wilhoite and Alfano deliver gripping performances with their renditions of several hit songs, including “Suddenly Seymour” and “Somewhere That’s Green.” Additionally, Alfano shines as Audrey, trapped in an abusive relationship with the sadistic Dentist, Tim Timmer of Wayne. Timmer in turn, provokes lots of laughter singing “Dentist” and “Now (It’s Just The Gas)”.
Skid Row just wouldn’t be complete without the gospel-style Greek chorus, a terrific trio packing plenty of attitude and sass while the tragedy unfolds. Crystal (Katie Aumann of Royal Oak), Ronnette (Amy Poirier of Farmington Hills) and Chiffon (Allison Boufford of Northville Township) provide perfect harmony for catchy tunes like, "Little Shop", "Skid Row", "Da-Doo", "Ya Never Know,” "The Meek Shall Inherit" and more.
Maggie Gilkes of Farmington Hills, Walter Middlebrook of Detroit, Blythe Philp of Royal Oak and Laurel Stroud of Redford Township take on hilarious character roles, and John Boufford of Northville Township proves entertaining as the narrator and interviewer.
But the star that may just steal the stage is Audrey II, morphing from a “strange and interesting” piece of greenery to the money-making Monster. The puppeteer Michael Rose of Waterford Township and the voice Jarrod Henderson of Farmington Hills team up to bring to life the saucy soul-singing beast from space, with hilarious show-stopping numbers “Feed Me (Git It)” and “Suppertime.”
Tickets for Little Shop Of Horrors, sponsored by Tarnow Doors, are available now at farmingtonplayers.org or at the box office 248-553-2955.
Shows are slated at 8 p.m. April 27, 28, May 3-5, 11-13 and 17-19; and 2 p.m. April 29 (Sold Out), May 6 and 13. Tickets are $18, with a $2 discount for students. Call the box office at 248-553-2955 to learn more.