I was excited to head down to the Stag Theatre in Sevenoaks to catch the opening night ofPetts Wood Operatic Society’s production of Little Shop of Horrors, a real fun, feel-good show with great tunes. This is an interesting one for amateur groups, with challenging demands from the set and score, but PWOS rose to the occasion bringing this show to life in a unique way.
Little Shop of Horrors tells the story of Seymour, a local florist employee who breeds a monstrous cross between a Venus flytrap and an avocado that prefers a different kind of plant feed! His desire to impress his colleague Audrey (who the plant is named after), Seymour finds himself turning to some underhanded deeds in his rise to botanical fame.
Obviously a huge challenge with this show is bringing a six-foot-high talking plant to life and this was excellently handled with one of the best props I’ve seen in amateur theatre. The puppeteers need a pat on the back for their work in controlling the beast but I must also mention the hilarious Ben Southworth (voice of Audrey II) who really got into character, not an easy-feat when you aren’t on stage physically portraying it.
The rest of the set was fantastic although one or two scene changes were a little clunky. I’m sure this will become easier with practice. The real highlight in this show was the music!
The trio of Crystal (Elizabeth O’Donnell), Ronnette (Hannah Ockendon-Rowe) and Chiffon (Eleanor Parkinson) were a real delight; confidently and beautifully performed. The chorus numbers were also well-delivered vocally despite some tough harmonies and pieces to movement.
The band, despite only being five strong, were brilliant. I loved the music throughout and they were in safe hands under the direction of Alex Wharram. Unfortunately there was some obvious ‘searching’ for Alex’s cue – I know this needs to be done but some actors were more subtle at glancing towards the pit than others, which leads your gaze away and distracts from the action a little.
In the leading roles, James Mullin gave a strong performance as Seymour, creating a really endearing character, although I felt the final scene against Audrey II could have used more attack! Emily Webb was a beautiful Audrey and cleverly added pace where the show sometimes lacked it. Suddenly Seymour was gorgeous with the both of them! A standout performer for me was Josef Paris – a smooth Scrivello and a natural in the part.
Overall I just felt the show needed a tad more ‘oomph’ and confidence, particularly from the ensemble. Don’t act like you are just ‘in the background’ – what you are doing is good, it just needs extra conviction.
Ultimately PWOS have pulled off a lovely show and held their own with a sometimes difficult musical piece. The production runs until Saturday 21st November with tickets still available from The Stag Theatre.