BELFAST — What do you get when you cross science fiction, rhythm & blues, puppetry, and horticulture? A perfect storm of hilarity on the Basil Burwell Community Theater stage —home of the Belfast Maskers and their latest Summer offering, “Little Shop of Horrors”. Adapted from Roger Corman’s low-budget, black and white, dark horror comedy from 1960, the cult classic musical began its journey off-off-Broadway in 1982, moved up to off-Broadway, and became one of the most successful off-Broadway shows in history. From there the musical became a hit big-screen film, a regional and school theater powerhouse, later returned to NYC stages, both on Broadway and in a recent off-Broadway revival.
Much of the show’s success can be attributed to its writing team. It was one of the first shows on which Howard Ashman (book and lyrics) and Alan Menken (score) collaborated; they went on from there to find massive success on stage and screen together, finding critical and popular acclaim with beloved Disney musicals like “Aladdin”, “The Little Mermaid”, and “Beauty and the Beast”.
Menken’s 60s-style doo-wop songs drive Ashman’s story along and are in capable hands with Belfast Maskers. Backed by a trio of street urchins (Abby Boucher, Olivia West, and Elaine Landry), who sing the title song, earworms abound. The whole ensemble sets the stage early, singing of their aspirations to get out of “Skid Row”. Flower shop employee Audrey (Mirabelle Kutsy-Durbin) sings sweetly of having “..a matchbook of our own..”—but perhaps not with her psychopath boyfriend Orin (Corey Burns), who in turn croons his origin story in “Dentist”. Lovelorn, mistreated Seymour Krelborn (Andrew Lipman) is the unlikely, and unheroic, hero of the story. Working alongside Audrey at the decrepit flower shop run by cranky Mr. Mushnik (James Cook), he discovers a strange plant after a total eclipse of the Sun (“Da-doo”). It might bring them all the success they need to turn their fortunes around — but at what price? Will Audrey and Seymour find love, will the Skid Row denizens find a way out, or will this all end in disaster?
Helmed by a director Kim Murphy and Music Director Joani Mitchell, Belfast Maskers’ production will have all of the frights and all of the fun — with some surprises planned for audiences in the (air-conditioned!) intimate theater. Theatergoers hoping for a more interactive experience can enter to win a chance to get up close and personal with the show’s main plant-agonist, Audrey II. Parents are cautioned to use their discretion when bringing children to “Little Shop of Horrors”; the “PG-13” material has some adult themes and violence.
“Little Shop of Horrors” is produced by special permission of Music Theater International. The production opens on Thursday, July 28 with a special “Preview Night” performance for only $10. For the rest of the run (Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 until Aug. 7), tickets are $22, but patrons can take advantage of a $4 discount for students or seniors, and an additional 15 percent discount on six or more tickets when purchased online at http://www.BelfastMaskers.com/events.