Wimbledon Light Opera Society’s Little Shop of Horrors is a playful treat for everyone. What is somewhat lacking in professional finish is made up for with bags of enthusiasm from a forceful ensemble.
Shamefully, Wimbledon Light Opera Society’s Little Shop of Horrors – currently at the Stockwell Playhouse – is the first musical I’ve seen in quite some time. Despite my instinctive reluctance to feel any excessive joy on a chilly Wednesday night, I found myself reluctantly lured in to its rough-and-ready charm.
The charming Glen Jordan navigates the dubious role of Seymour with aplomb. Seamlessly weaving between innocence and coming-of-age, the humour lands every time (and with every facial expression). The chemistry between Seymour and Audrey (Olivia Stearman), whilst a little too heightened for my taste, is touching and the duo complement each other nicely. Stand out vocal nods go to the Fantastic Audrey II, whose voice commanded exactly the right power for the role. Clear and controlled, articulation was never a problem for the most experienced singer of the group, Trish Butterfield. Stand out comedic performance goes to Michael Leopold as Orin Scrivello whose unwavering confidence in execution carried the comedy in moments where the audience weren’t quite as responsive as desirable. All in all, the performances were generally very strong, a true testament to director Stuart James for finding comedy in every available moment but appropriately allowing for moments of reprieve. Despite some occasionally shaky vocals, the performances were generally very committed – although the relentless energy by some of the chorus members did illuminate those who were holding back.
Unfortunately, the production falls short in some of its technical aspects. Whilst having a wonderfully capable band, the music did overpower the vocals particularly in the opening (arguably most well-known) song of the show. This may have been opening night issues that will be ruled out, as it did become less of an issue throughout the show but some more tactical choreography could have negated the frequent feedback between mics. The costumes were well put together, but, although fitting with the original production, the set unfortunately lacked flare. Gaps either side allowed for significant viewing of backstage activity which was a shame, preventing the company from presenting with full professional finesse.
Choreography, by Samantha Herriot, was dynamic and well-tailored to a cast with varied abilities. It is worth noting that whilst it works well in ensemble numbers, the choreography for the Crystal/Ronnette/Chiffon Trio numbers often swallowed the girls vocals, making them a little breathless and hard to hear. However, props to the ladies for unfaltering commitment in very demanding, energetic roles.
Overall, WLOS’s production of Little Shop of Horrors packs a punch. The cast were undeniably having a fantastic time, and what it lacked in polish around the edges, it makes up for in energetic, impassioned charm.