Theatre review - Little Shop of Horrors, Pendle Hippodrome, Colne
15:50 12 October 2016
Little Shop of Horrors – Basics Junior Theatre School – Pendle Hippodrome, Colne – Tuesday 11th October 2016
Starting life as a 1960’s black comedy film directed by Roger Corman, The Little Shop of Horrors gathered pace on the musical scene premiering in 1982. Getting its fresh, Hollywood makeover in 1986 with the new, “rock music horror comedy” tagline, the popularity of this whacky, yet magnificent piece of musical theatre soared.
“It’s not your regular musical,” Basics Junior Principal, Andy Cooke admits to me after the show. “It’s definitely not one that the crowd of children would have heard of before.” I have a feeling they won’t forget it now.
The story is of an orphan called Seymour who now works at a local plant store run by Mr. Mushnik alongside the object of his affection, Audrey. The business is doomed to fail until Seymour shows Mr. Mushnik a secret he has been storing away - a plant, much like a fly trap, but very different. He stumbled across it after the result of an eclipse of the sun. It soon turns the fortunes of the plant shop for the better and catapults Seymour into stardom. Meanwhile, Audrey is in a relationship with a violent dentist and when Seymour discovers the one thing the plant craves, he could save the day and get the girl. But, there is one rule to follow – don’t feed the plant!
Well, where do I begin? Every year I see a performance by Basics Junior Theatre School, every year I see a performance that I don’t believe can be beaten and every year they just get better and better. Considering the age of all the performers varies from 11 to 18, the professionalism, the energy and the determination that they portray can not only rival, but beat that of a professional, adult cast. Principal Andy Cooke has every right to be proud of every single member of this wonderful, young theatre school. Together, he and director Richard Sanderson have taken quite a difficult piece of visual musical theatre and made it look so easy. Strong support once again comes from choreographer Helen Cheung and her stunningly flowing and often complex dance pieces that brought an effervescent energy to the story backed by musical director, Andrew Mitchell, who, along with his tremendous band brought the wonderful, vibrant songs to us from the stage.
As much as I would love to single out every young dancer, singer and actor from the school, there is simply too many to name. Everyone gave truly breath taking performances full of vigour and full of passion. Considering this was only the first night it felt like they had been performing this show for months. Some of the best singing talents I have had the pleasure of hearing were also displayed by the vocal accompaniment of Ellie Cook, Freya Humberstone and Millie Green as Ronnette, Chiffon and Crystal respectively who each showed strong voices and beautiful harmonies. There was a strong performance from Alex Pemberton in his first lead role as Seymour who looked as if he’d been performing on the stage for years beyond his own. Blake Morris was excellent as Mr. Mushnik with perfect American accent and also displaying the true strengths of his comedic performance. Young Bradley Ellor burst onto the stage as the dentist, Orin in one of the best performances I have ever seen from a member of the school. A performance like that would not go amiss in the professional tour of the show that is due to start in Manchester soon. One of the stars of the show though was Alice Butterfield as Audrey. Everything about the performance was executed superbly and she brought one of the most heart wrenching, soulful and mesmerising singing voices ever. During her rendition of “Somewhere That’s Green” she brought the house down and had the whole audience in the palm of her hand.
Once again, there was no expense spared with putting on this Production. At a staggering £27,000 you can tell that Basics are very serious about what they do. The huge, West End style set is the school’s very own as are all the costumes. All of which, I am informed, are available for hire. For more information, please contact Andy Cooke at the school.
The focal point of the performance was indeed, Audrey II, the huge plant that grew magnificently throughout the show with various puppets used to expertly humorous use by the actors. The large plant filled the majority of the centre stage during the second act and special mention should definitely go to Reuben Khan who brought the plant’s voice to life along with Greg Wharf who operated it.
The only negative thing I really have to say is that Basics only put on these shows once a year, so I have another 12 months to wait for the next one. The good thing is that the show is running up to and including Saturday 15th October at 7:30pm so there are plenty of opportunities for you to see the it and you really must do so. It is phenomenal. It is entertaining. It is funny. It is the best show I have seen this year.
For more information regarding Basics, visit their website at - basicsjuniortheatre.co.uk