Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Little Shop of Horrors, Georgetown Palace, May 1 - 31

The Georgetown Palace does its familiar high-gloss finish on this production with talented actors, a vigorous show orchestra, and an impressively atmospheric functional two-story set presenting Muschnik's shabby flower shop in the even shabbier surroundings of a NYC "Skid Row." The audience appeared to enjoy the goings-on and the six- and eight-year-olds sitting near me in Row B were fascinated by the puppetry for Audry II, the extraterrestrial carnivorous plant out to conquer the world from those humble beginnings.

For me it was a Grade A production of a Grade D musical play.

This story started as the campy 1960s black humor movie shot in two days by Roger Corman, with Jack Nicholson in a minor role. The 1982 success in New York of the musical The Little Shop of Horrors prompted puppeteer Frank Oz to produce a movie version in 1986. The show has made the rounds ever since, usually accompanied by the teeny and the massive versions of Audrey II provided by Character Translations in Pennsylvania, based on designs by Martin P. Robinson, a Jim Henson Master Puppeteer.

I enjoy camp and I enjoy black humor. But in order to appreciate camp, you have to know and relish the art form or the artwork that is being exaggerated to pieces. Relating to this show, one of my blind spots, not shared by the majority of the American public, was cinematic. I don't know much about horror films, alien invasion films or creature films, except for Godzilla and King Kong (in the 1928 version, please). And the other blind spot was Audrey II. When I settled in the front of the Georgetown Palace last Friday, I'd never seen the play or either of the movies. So I was a blank slate for Howard Ashman's book and lyrics, as well as for Alan Menken's music.

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