The Loft Theatre Company of Leamington Spa is renowned in local amateur circles for its rigorous rehearsal schedule and professional expectations of its actors and the dedication and professionalism of cast and crew shines through in their slick and energetic production of Little Shop of Horrors.
The stage is set with a cross-section, showing part of the downtown streets of New York’s Skid Row and the interior of Mushnick’s Flower Shop, the setting for the majority of scenes in the show. From the outset, the excellent quality and detail of Kimberley Green’s set design is apparent and the props team of Green and Jake Parker surpass expectations throughout with their puppet and animatronic Audrey II models.
The show opens with the title musical number, setting the standard for the rest of the night with superb vocal performances from the entire company and an extremely talented live band cunningly tucked away in an on-stage music store. From Amy Barrett, Gemma Mann and Zoe Hobman opening the show with amazing harmonies and liberal doses of sass as Ronnette, Chiffon and Crystal, to Nikki Cross’ goose bump-inducing rendition of “Suddenly Seymour” the vocal standard doesn’t waiver.
The dance performances during the musical numbers occasionally let the side down a little, with some cramped stage positioning and a slightly lacklustre feel against the slickness and professionalism of the vocal performances and acted scenes but this is a minor niggle and in no way detracts from the enjoyment or quality of the show.
Whilst the musical numbers serve well to progress the story and deliver an engaging level of energy and pace, the spoken scenes easily match them. Chris Gilbey-Smith captures the character of Seymour perfectly and the on-stage chemistry between Smith and Cross’ coquettish Audrey is believable, leading to some genuinely touching scenes, despite the comedic, somewhat spoof nature of the play. Oli Jones lends an alternative energy to the piece with his darkly comedic portrayal of the sinister dentist and Audrey’s good-for-nothing boyfriend, Orin.
Adhering to the original stage ending, rather than the Hollywood happy-ever-after seen in the 1980s screen version, The Loft’s Little Shop of Horrors is equal parts comedy, feel-good musical and dark horror and carries a not-too-subtle moral tale about the price of celebrity, fame and fortune.
Due to the standard of professionalism, talent and slickness of the show, rarely seen in an amateur production, I give The Loft Theatre Company’s Little Shop of Horrors four stars.