It was around sometime in 1982 that I first saw “Little Shop” at an out of the way theater in downtown Manhattan. I was writing for the Providence Journal then and a fellow critic from Pittsburgh had recommended this new musical. He thought I’d like it.
Well, yes. I did enjoy the evening but my real opinion that it was just an off Broadway affair. Wouldn’t make the big time, I supposed.
Ah, well, you can’t win ‘em all.”Little Shop,” we know now, has been a winner for years. It did go on Broadway for a while moving on to be a hit playing around the world from London to Australia with thousands of stops in between.
And here at Trinity it’s nothing short of a gorgeous production. From a great and ever so green setting by Sara Brown, to a wonderful cast that is splendid under Tyler Dobrowsky’s direction. He keeps the pace perfect, the humor always there, and, most important, even a serious view brought out with greater clarity than I’ve seen in other versions.
In case you’ve been on Mars or somewhere, I’ll let you in on the line of the play. There’s this small snoop of a guy who’s going out of business with his low rate flower shop. Up shows a little monster that, well, just loves –and needs-- human blood to exist.
With that lovely idea in place, the show careens into the store becoming a money making machine that gets everybody in to the middle of things, for good and bad. The rest is, well, just plain great crazy humor and music. And this version nicely catches a true exploration of good and bad that I’ve never seen so well presented.
Director Dobrowsky makes clear that this “Little Shop” is more than great humor. He shows a feeling of the wrong that has been done clearly letting you know that making all kinds of money is not everything.
The large cast is first rate. Rebecca Gibel is gorgeous as she sings and acts and delivers a brand of sexy sweetness that is nothing but great fun. Stephen Berenson as the shop owner is hilarious and Jude Sandy as his helper is delightful, and meaningful.
The rest of the large cast is equally wonderful. And so is this “Little Shop of Horrors.” It’s something not to miss is you love musical theater at it’s very best.
"Little Shop of Horrors" continues at Trinity Rep through May 12.