From 1989 to '95 Alan Menkin was the wunderkind of the Disney Renaissance, composing music for 'Beauty and The Beast', 'Aladdin', 'Pocahontas' and 'The Little Mermaid'.
Seven years before his impressive run with animated characters, Menkin wrote “Little Shop”. The music is a blend of rock 'n roll, do wop and early Motown. When it closed it was then the longest running off-Broadway show ever.
The farcical story involves a flower shop employee who finds a plant whose sustenance is blood; from a tiny drop to the eventual go for broke engorging of live people. And, along the way, rockin' music and, sigh, a love story.
The mark of a true professional is the sublimation of their personal talent to the honesty of the character. That integrity – allied with consistency – is exemplified by Audrey (Kaylan Wetzel). She has been in several recent NCT shows and Aisle Say has heard the power and grandiloquence of her natural voice. The character Audrey is from somewhere near the depths of downtown Brooklyn and is encumbered by a very, very annoying nasality. Wetzel realizes this role.
Artistic Director Chris Alberts was additionally blessed by the perfect casting of Peter Briccotto as Seymour, the quintessential nebbish. Briccoti is an amusing dead center concoction east of Woody Allen and west of Rick Moranis. He plays his character such that the audience is preparing a giggle even before he opens his mouth. I would suggest Seymour be mindful of the spotlights in which the director has him placed. He missed a few on the night that my dear sister Liz and I were in attendance.
There is no denying the Motown trio of Crystal (Erienne Poole), Ronnette (Erica Scanlon Harr) and Chiffon (Lindsay Mauck) have both the pipes and the presence. Their costuming was drab. One would think if they had been dressed similarly throughout, possibly in outrageous costumes, it would have added more theatricality. The three work well together and they set the stage with the opening “Skid Row (Downtown)”.
Actor Michael Delaney, who is a dead ringer for House Manager Paul Goodman, played so many roles that one ran out of digits counting them. Yet, with each, (most emphatically the sadistic motor cycle riding, misogynistic dentist Orin), he brought life and credibility to them all. (Dentists take a major blow to the incisors in this show. Think “Marathon Man”.) Aisle Say emphatically agrees with Seymour's admonition to the audence,...“there's always time for dental hygiene.”
Director Alberts convinced Patrick Ahearn, owner of Hob Hollow Studios, to design, create and perform the role of Audrey II, the man-eating plant. His precious work was last seen at NCT as 'The Wizard' in Oz. Ahearn's gift is a great asset to the production. I would ask that he hold off for five minutes after the final curtain to have his technicians 'dismember' Audrey II. As long as one can sustain the illusion of the production, you should go for it.
Chris Alberts pays homage to Music Director Jim Weber, who is relocating to Florida. For 30 years Weber and his partner Gary Prianti were producers for Three Little Bakers Dinner Theatre. During the salad decades of the '70's and '80's, Bakers was a theatrical money mill, churning out classic Broadway shows to bus groups pouring in from seven states.
But Bakers was a 900 seat elephant needing to be fed 8 shows weekly. Tastes changed. Entertainment avenues increased. The economy happened.
Both gentlemen are professionals and they are friends of mine. Godspeed.
Gentle readers, from seven dinner theatres in the '70's in our state – now to NCT, the last man standing.
Til October 30. NewCandlelighttheatre.org 302.475.2313 firstname.lastname@example.org