The stage may be small but the talent is large at Dick Gessner's Broadway Corner, where a top-notch production of the outrageously clever musical "Little Shop of Horrors" is in production through Dec. 19.
A longtime pillar of the arts community and proprietor of the area's premier show-biz saloon, Gessner has access to many of the area's finest entertainers.
They showed up in force for this hilarious telling of the tale of the jive-talking plant from outer-space that entices a ditsy florist into a bargain that spells doom for Cleveland, Des Moines, Peoria, New York and points in between.
The '50s-inspired score by composer Alan Mencken is great fun, but it is the extraordinary wit of the late Howard Ashman's lyrics that gives the show its inimitable tang. "Shang a lang, feel the sturm und drang in the air, yeah, yeah, yeah . . ." Amazing.
This "Little Shop" was co-produced by Shirley Ashman Gershman, the lyricist's mother, in tribute to her Academy Award-winning son, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1991.
Right down to the staple in his glasses, Maurie O'Connor is the apotheosis of nerd-dom as Seymour Krellborn, the schlemiel who sells his soul to win the girl of his dreams.
Tere Berry is tremendous as Audrey, the buxom bimbo with the bouffant who steals Seymour's heart as she dreams of suburbia while dodging left-hooks from her rotten dentist boyfriend.
Excellent performances also are turned in by Thom Walker as Mushnik, the curmudgeonly senior florist, and a tape-recorded Wayne York, the most soulful flytrap in town.
Lance Overdorf plays the crazy dentist well, but sometimes sounds more like a Scarlett O'Hara beau than the sadistic jerk he's supposed to be.
"Little Shop" may not leap to mind as a Christmas show, but talent, wit and good humor are welcome visitors at any season.
Dick Gessner's Broadway Corner is at 75 Revell Highway in Annapolis. Matinees will be performed at 2 p.m. Sunday, and Dec. 12 and 19. Evening performances are at 8 p.m. Dec. 16, 17 and 18. Tickets are $15. For more information or to make reservations, call 974-1825.