TheatreWorks Florida's production of the Howard Ashman-Alan Menken musical "Little Shop of Horrors" already has enjoyed a successful run at the Garden Theatre, so it's no wonder that it's 90-minute Fringe Festival version chugs along like a well-oiled machine.
The music, by the team later responsible for Disney's "Little Mermaid" and "Beauty and the Beast," bounces in all the right places. The comedy lands in the right places. Caroline Drage is ditzy as Audrey, Kevin Ryan Cole is nerdy as Seymour.
So all the elements are in the right places. They're augmented with fun touches: A character reads a monster magazine, in reference to the show's horror spoof angle. The narrating trio of singers -- Crystal, Ronnette and Chiffon -- change outfits myriad times, depending on their song or point in the story. Each outfit's more fun than the last. Even the way the scenery changes to alternate between the inside and outside of the flower shop where an alien plant begins to grow is fun.
Frank Siano has a twinkle in his eye as florist Mr. Mushnik, Jamaal K. Solomon is big-voiced and rowdy as the carnivorous and very hungry plant.
What's missing is the flip side of that fun -- the dark message of the show, how fame can consume one, how we humans always find a way to justify our bad choices to ourselves. Yes, "Little Shop" is silly on the surface, but the darkness is a key ingredient.
Part of the reason that serious side feels downplayed, I suspect, is the quick pace required to fit the show into the Fringe's time allotment. There's barely a moment to pause for applause after a big number like "Suddenly Seymour" or "Somewhere That's Green."
And maybe a Fringe audience doesn't want to think about the grittier parts of the show. Just sit back and enjoy and fun.
90 minutes, Silver Venue, $11, Orlando Fringe Festival official page.
- Thursday 17 May; at 8:15pm in the Silver
- Saturday 19 May; at 12:00pm in the Silver
- Sunday 20 May; at 3:00pm in the Silver
- Tuesday 22 May; at 6:30pm in the Silver
- Wednesday 23 May; at 6:00pm in the Silver
- Friday 25 May; at 8:45pm in the Silver
- Saturday 26 May; at 12:45pm in the Silver