reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre continues their 2019 season with the 1982 off-Broadway hit – Little Shop of Horrors. Based on a low-budget 1960 film by Roger Corman – “The Little Shop of Horrors”, this comic/horror musical tells the story of timid florist worker, Seymour Krelborn, who obtains a mysterious plant which thirsts for human blood. Alan Menken wrote the music with lyrics and book by Howard Ashman.

B&B’s production is a comic strip storyboard coming to life – from the indispensable set by Michael Layton, through the colorful costuming by Jill Kelly Howe, to the highly keyed lighting by Ryan Koharchik. Adding to the fun are the freely stylized characterizations of the top level cast developed by director Jeff Stockberger and augmented by Ron Morgan’s frolicking choreography. And, of course, there is also Audrey II – but more on that later…

(from left) Mr. Mushnik (Douglas E. Stark), Seymour (Joey Boos) and Audrey (Jenny Reber) meet Audrey II, the plant.

The cast is led by Joey Boos as the nebbish Seymour. Perfectly filling the pitiful young man with endearing qualities of thankfulness and hope, Boos presents a character worthy of our empathy, even as he commits a series of very questionable actions. His top-notch singing talents add to our enjoyment. The girl of his dreams, florist shop co-worker Audrey, is offered here by Jenny Reber. Already an accomplished comic actress, Ms. Reber raises the bar on her talents with some very skillful vocal work. Her Audrey is a true delight to watch, and to hear.

Orin Scrivello, DDS (Logan Moore) intimidates Seymour (Joey Boos) in a scene from B&B’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors”

Douglas E. Stark takes the role of floral shop owner Mr. Mushnik and makes the most of every opportunity to entertain. Logan Moore has his Equity debut with a well-done, dynamic rendering of Orin Serivello DDS. Totally embracing the comic book idea for his character, Moore bursts with highly comical movement and patter that stretches the ideal.

(from left), Crystal (Devin Kessler), Chiffon (Jameela Leaundra), and Ronnette (Carlita Victoria) in a scene from B&B’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors”

Carlita Victoria, Devin Kessler, and Jameela Leaundra comprise the Skid-Row urchins – Ronnette, Crystal and Chiffon, respectively. Their function as story commentators and participants is energetically peppered with electric song and dance arrangements which give these ladies the chance to really show their talents. Brett Mutter busily handles 7 comic roles and makes each one distinctive and humorous.

The nefarious Audrey II is an awesomely impressive presence – the combined creation of puppeteer Josh Maldonado and deep-voiced vocalist Josiah R. McCruiston. As the plant increases in size, so do their duties, until Audrey II takes up much of the stage – a monstrous, albeit cartoonish, horror.

Seymour (Joey Boos) is threatened by Audrey II in a scene from B&B’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors”

Bottomline: this is an example of a perfect production – it entertains fully as comedy, musical, and horror show with wacky characters, romance, amazing songs and singing, eye-catching dances, wonderful stagecraft and an unexpected plot resolution. Go see it!

Little Shop of Horrors continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through November 17th. Find show times and reservations at http://www.beefandboards.com or call the box office at 317-872-9664.

  • – photos by Julie Curry