I’m sitting to write this review next to my new Venus flytrap which (who?) has just caught its (his?) first bug. I can’t help but gasp at the eerily un-plantlike way it snapped closed around the fly which it is now munching on.
There’s something humorous yet spooky, or maybe even a bit otherworldly, about carnivorous plants, especially ones that sing Motown.
Sequim’s own Olympic Theatre Arts' most recent production capitalizes on this charming dichotomy in "Little Shop of Horrors."
This musical following the activities of Seymour and his man-eating plant from outer space needs very little introduction. Originally a Roger Corman film, "Little Shop of Horrors" was adapted by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman into an award-winning musical in 1982. Since then it has been popular around the world with theater companies of all shapes and sizes.
The production of a complete musical is an impressive undertaking for a community theater and OTA is to be commended for its ambition. That said, attempting a musical is one thing, but pulling it off is another, and once again OTA delivered an engaging and entertaining performance. I have to be honest; I approach musical theater in general with great caution. Very few performers, even at the professional level, can really simultaneously dance, sing and act effortlessly enough to create an effective theatrical illusion. The beauty of "Little Shop of Horrors" is that it plays off the ridiculous nature of people breaking into song and dance at every given opportunity. When the star of the show is a singing plant there is no illusion of reality.
This has the wonderful effect of freeing up a production, allowing actors to craft wild characters, like the sadistic, laughing-gas-addicted dentist brilliantly brought to life by Edwin Anderson III. Anderson’s performance combined Elvis and a bad-boy biker with a lunatic dental surgeon to a hysterical effect only possible in a musical comedy.
The entire cast was nicely assembled. A particular highlight was the ultimate unlikely couple of Audrey and Seymour played by Nikkole Adams and Danny Willis. Their acting was excellent and their chemistry endearing. Willis’ use of a thick accent and intentionally less-than-perfect vocal intonation was a very effective juxtaposition to Adams, whose lovely singing on the classic numbers “Somewhere That’s Green” and “Suddenly Seymour” was superlative. In the wacky world that is "Little Shop of Horrors" they brought out the best in each other through their contrasting performances. Their phone duet was one of my favorite parts of the show. Adams' work throughout was among the very best I’ve seen in any community theater, using her impressive talent to complement the production without ever upstaging anyone.
I am once again pleased to have experienced a show put on by Olympic Theatre Arts. From the smartly designed sets and costumes to an enjoyable acting performance from the entire cast, this company’s attention to detail is remarkable. Little touches like carnivorous plants for sale in the lobby as a fundraiser, hence my aforementioned new friend, bring a charming homespun feel to a well-executed community theater production. One of the great joys of living in Sequim is how community-centered so much of our arts and entertainment really is, and OTA is right at the front of this, bringing local talent and creativity into the public view.