Review – Little Shop of Horrors (Duke of York’s transfer)

Wednesday 14 March 2007

Little Shop of Horrors at the Duke of Yorks

Oh dear. How very disappointing.

Yet another entertaining evening at the theatre for the West End Whingers.

This has been a most trying ten days for the Whingers. Hit after hit after hit, with only The Entertainer providing any serious whinge fodder.

To put it bluntly, we’ve been enjoying ourselves. Who would ever have guessed it would come to this?

Returning to Little Shop of Horrors when we’d already enjoyed it so much on the fringe at the Menier Chocolate Factory was never going to give us much material into which to sink our teeth. Indeed, the only serious blood drawn last night was on the stage.

This has caused something of a crisis of faith for the whingers whose entire raison d’être is now in doubt once again, forcing them to question their very existence. Perhaps Monday’s dose of Albee existentialism got to them? (Phil – Stop banging on about existentialism; you haven’t a clue what it means – Andrew) Yes, it is all horribly worrying.

So, not much to add really to our previous rave review. It’s still a highly entertaining evening. Here are the things that were different for us:

  • We actually heard Paul Keating sing this time, his understudy having sung his role when we saw the show at the Menier. We can report that the boy can sing very well and makes a terrific Seymour. His “Grow for Me” was particularly good.
  • Great use of follow spots in “On Skid Row”
  • Alistair McGowan has replaced Jasper Britton as Orin Scrivello (DDS!). Noviate whinger Sharon (a young woman who we think will never be a nun) is very partial to the McGowan and purred gently at every sighting of his leather-clad dentist. When she glimpsed his treasure-trail, Phil feared he might have to hose her down.
  • The set is bigger and better.
  • A technical hitch delayed the start of the second half, but no one in the stalls seemed to mind. By then the audience seemed so behind the show that the party atmosphere just moved up a notch; they should think about delaying it every night. Andrew passed the time by chatting to complete strangers. Mostly they weren’t listening to him, of course, and those that were mysteriously moved to seats further back at the earliest opportunity.

Sheridan Smith as AudreyHigh points: the surprise opening; Sheridan Smith (right) and Paul Keating belting out a show-stopping”Suddenly, Seymour”; the high-powered harmonies of chorus Chiffon (Katie Kerr), Crystal (Melitsa Nicola) and Ronette (Jenny Fitzpatrick); Mike McShane’s playful plant; the plant; Alistair McGowan zipping up his flies after an ultra-quick costume change.

We have to get a whinge in, though and there’s a very serious one: the sound was appalling. Terrible. Criminal. Spies not even connected to the production tell us that a new sound design is being helicoptered in. In our view it can’t happen soon enough as Howard Ashman‘s witty lyrics were inaudible in many of the numbers. End of whinge.

As is customary the West End Whingers avec entourage dropped in for a post-show drink at the Garrick (Andrew – you should probably clarify that it’s not actually the club, just the pub next to the Garrick theatre – Phil) and who should drop in but Katie Kerr (Chiffon) and Sheridan Smith (Audrey) who must have trailed them there.

Kerr, of course, insisted on having her photograph taken with the Whingers yet again (below) while Smith forced down a glass of rosé “to be polite” (hair of the dog from last night’s opening show party, Smith? What a shame our invitation got lost in the post.)

If the curtain call and the cross-section of opinion from the Whingers’ hangers-on friends after the show are anything to go by then it’s a real crowd pleaser. We think so too.

West End Whingers and Katie Kerr

Katie Kerr: “I can manage my own career, thank you.”

Trivial, irrelevant footnote: In “researching” this piece, Andrew discovered that the film of the musical spawned a TV series. Who knew?

Highly relevant footnote: WEW were thrilled to discover that the Duke of York’s bar will sell you an entire bottle of red wine for under £14 while a measly glass costs you almost a fiver. We re-couped our ticket costs. Several times over.


2 Responses to “Review – Little Shop of Horrors (Duke of York’s transfer)”

  1. Agree about the sound. We were only a handful of rows from the front and the lyrics sounded indistinct. No other technical hitches when I went, though there was a moment of near-corpsing from Alistair McGowan that was rather entertaining.

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