In the audience awaiting the first night of Little Shop of Horrors, I was told by the lady sitting next to me that she always comes to Savoyards shows because they are always so professional and high quality. The first full show for two years by this acclaimed theatre group did not disappoint her, or me: under the skilled direction of Pete Stockman, himself well known in various roles in Island theatre, the dancing, singing and acting were all well up to the standard we have come to expect, from the first bars of the overture to the last bows.
We were treated throughout to the delightful harmonies of the four Ronettes, who provide a musical storytelling framework for the show: Bryony Bishop, Jes Rann, Sunny Brown and Blue Brown are all accomplished singers in their own right and their voices and moves blended beautifully.
Daniel Farmer is a real find – he was perfectly cast as the nerdy lead character Seymour. The audience warmed to him as he told us his hopes and dreams, one of them being his co-worker and secret crush Audrey, played with disarming sweetness by Ashley Rettie. She drew giggles as she staggered rather than sashayed in her too-high heels, and sympathy as she faced first her abusive boyfriend and then…the plant!
The boyfriend – Savoyards veteran Steve Jones in fine voice – also provided humour aplenty as he first sang about and then visually demonstrated how being a dentist gave him sadistic pleasure, until he fell foul of his own -er – addictions. David Kent, as Mr Mushnik, the owner of the down-and-out florist shop, also provided strong acting and musical support.
Even the small cameos featured highly talented actors well known on the Island stage, such as Jake Alabaster, resplendent in pink suit, Sharon Lock, John Kerr, Holly Downer and Emily Scotcher. They also formed part of the ensemble and the musical and dancing talents really came into their own, and the fine work of the musical director Andrew Woodford and choreographer Rosie Sales were displayed.
The set was cleverly designed to form the street and the shop with a swift flick around, and of course the voracious plant was a star, especially as it was voiced by the very talented Nathan Mellor who rightly appeared at the end of the show to take his share of the plaudits.
If you have never seen this well known and award-winning stage show (or the film) before, my advice is not to read the synopsis in the programme – the ending is absolutely right but maybe not what you might expect. But even if like me you have seen it and know the plot, this production of Little Shop of Horrors is not to be missed – after two years of being unable to perform, the Savoyards have burst straight back on to the stage with a stunning show, full of humour, movement, music and a talented, enthusiastic cast who are clearly just as delighted to be back on stage as we are to see them.
There is still time to catch Little Shop of Horrors at Shanklin Theatre tonight, tomorrow and a matinee on Sunday – tickets from Shanklin Theatre online, or box office on 01983 868000.