Theatre Review: ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ at O’Connell & Company

The cast of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ at O’Connell & Company.

October is the perfect time of year to perform “Little Shop of Horrors,” one of the darkest  yet hilariously entertaining and toe-tapping musicals out there. Alan Menken and Howard Ashman wrote a fabulous score for a rather terrible story and thanks to a dynamite cast at O’Connell & Company, it makes for an unforgettably fun night at the theater.

. . .a killer good production that’s truly out of this world.

“Little Shop of Horrors” follows the plight of  Seymour Krelbourne (a lovable Matthew Mooney) as he nurses a strange plant with an even stranger appetite to life while pining for his coworker Audrey (flawless songstress Jenny Marie McCabe) at a Skid Row flower shop run by the closest thing he’s ever had to a father, Mushnik (a hysterical Dan Morris).

From the moment you sit down in the theater, which was perfectly utilized by Matthew Myers’ spacious set, there’s Halloween-themed music pumping through the speakers. With the “Little Shop of Horrors” logo sign glowing above the curtain, it set the mood perfectly for the show.

Director Joey Bucheker really knocked this one out of the park. The casting was perfect, from the three knockout main characters to the fabulous, sassy and soulful trio of street urchins played by Marta Aracelis, Smirna Mercedes-Perez and Emily Pici. The male ensemble also knocked out a huge variety of roles, with Daniel Lendzian soaking up all kinds of stage time as the sadistic dentist Orin Scrivello as well as multiple other characters and Jake Hayes giving us a deep, demonic voice for Audrey II.

Mooney and McCabe are one heck of a pair, balancing adorable chemistry and cluelessness with ease and making “Suddenly Seymour” one of the show’s highlights. McCabe masters Audrey’s easily annoying voice perfectly, with every word and note clear as a bell – and boy, can she sing. Mooney is the cutest geeky botanist there ever was, and is at his best sharing the stage with Morris during “Mushnik and Son.” Morris’ cartoonish facial expressions are just perfect and, with Bucheker’s choreography, make for a side-splitting number.

Lastly, no production of this show can be successful without well designed puppets operated by a master puppeteer and Brett Runyon’s various incarnations of Audrey II are out of this world. Just when you think you’ve seen the largest Audrey II… it just keeps getting bigger. Thankfully, the experienced Zachary Haumesser is at the helm to bring Audrey II believably to life with the assistance of Ben Caldwell and Matthew Myers. The final scene has the largest Audrey II that I have ever seen and, coupled with Melissa Leventhal’s costumes, makes for one hilarious final number that leaves the audience in tears from laughter.

“Little Shop” is a killer good production that’s truly out of this world. With plenty of opportunities to catch it this month, make sure it is on your October calendar.

Running Time: 2 hours including one 15-minute intermission.“Little Shop of Horrors” is playing at O’Connell & Company in residence at the Park School of Buffalo through October 28, 2018. There will be a special added performance on Halloween. For tickets and more information, click here.