Derby Dinner’s production of Little Shop of Horrors began last night at the famed dinner theater, and I had the pleasure of attending. Little Shop of Horrors is one of my favorite musicals; however, I’ve never had the opportunity to see it as a stage production. I love the 1986 movie so much that I was worried I wouldn’t like the play if it was too different. Fortunately, I was wrong. If you, like me, have only seen the movie, I will warn you that the play has some differences. For example, the cast sings a few numbers that weren’t featured in the movie, and the production has an entirely different ending. The changes were well-received because they allowed the play to be more seamless than it would have been if the movie script had been used.
I was also concerned about the role of Audrey. I’ve heard people besides Ellen Greene sing Audrey’s songs on my “show tunes” Pandora station, and I knew that if the play didn’t have a good Audrey it would be a disaster. Jillian Prefach holds the role of Audrey at Derby Dinner, and she was completely perfect in my opinion. She portrayed the naïve yet worldly qualities of her character so well it was flawless. Seymour, played by Ricky Cona, was adorably geeky as he should be. My favorite song, “Suddenly Seymour,” was a real treat as Prefach and Cona performed it beautifully. The rest of the actors took up their roles with great fervor too. The singing trio of Chiffon (Tymika Prince), Ronnette (Illy Kirven), and Crystal (Tamika Skaggs) was both entertaining and humorous though I have no idea how they managed to change costumes so quickly!
The set was well planned with many trap doors and entrances which were used by the trio and the plant. It never ceases to amaze me how Derby Dinner is capable of utilizing their space to the fullest extent while making sure every seat a good one. The costumes and makeup were well done and stayed true to the time period. The plant at the center of the story, the Audrey II, was made locally by the Hastey Pudding Puppet Company in Vincennes, Indiana. Voiced by Rendell Debose and controlled by Lem Jackson, the Audrey II was believable as a character and enjoyed by the audience. The music, conducted by Scott Bradley, was a high caliber performance.
With an opening performance by the Footnotes and a huge buffet of country cooking, a night out at Derby Dinner playhouse is always an enjoyable one, especially when the performance includes a carnivorous singing plant!