MILL HALL - Although "Little Shop of Horrors" may not qualify as blood-thirsty entertainment, the strange-looking plant perched in its window has a unquenchable thirst for blood.
"Little Shop of Horrors," Millbrook Playhouse's third Main Stage attraction, offers remaining 7:30 p.m. performances tonight, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the old barn theater, located at 258 Country Club Lane.
The funny, gruesome spoof of '60s sci-fi disaster movies has been a favorite of community and college theaters for decades.
Mark De La Cocha is shown as Mr. Mushnik dancing a tango with his assistant Seymour, played by Jake Novak.
In a scene from the Millbrook Playhouse production of “Little Shop of Horrors,”? Seymour is shown with his secret love Audrey, played by Rebecca Kuznik.
The "monster musical" tells the tale of a hapless floral shop assistant Seymour, who works for a blustery owner Mr. Mushnik and pines for his coworker Audrey.
After finding a little plant and naming it Audrey 2, Seymour inadvertently discovers that the strange plant has an appetite for blood. Business booms and Seymour's fame grows as the plant, now a foul-mouthed carnivore, promises him the girl of his dreams if only he will feed it more and more human flesh. Seymour's predicament quickly turns macabre when he witnesses Audrey's nitrous-sucking dentist boyfriend abusing her. From there, it's all downhill for the dentist, or more aptly, down into the alien life form's big mouth.
The score, composed by Alan Menken, with book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, has some sounds of early rock 'n' roll, doo wop and even a bit of Motown. Despite it charms, Millbrook's production of "Little Shop ... " won't be everybody's cup of tea - or make that everybody's pint of blood.
Heading the cast is Jake Novak as the nebbish Seymour, who is very solid in both his conflicted character and his vocals. Not so for Rebecca Kuznick as Audrey. Although she nicely delivers "Somewhere's That's Green," Kuznick's Audrey is neither daffy nor nasal-voiced with not much if any Brooklyn lisp or accent. Her Audrey does display low self-esteem, but there is not much chemistry between her and her devoted protector. Marc De La Concha is funny as the spry Mr. Mushnik, always an audience favorite, even joining his proposed adoptive son Seymour in a catchy tango.
Jake Evans camps it up as Orrin, the sadistic, motorcycle-riding dentist who laughs himself to death, later appearing in Act II in a variety of brief roles. The fast-moving two-act musical has a running time of under two hours including a 20-minute intermission and contains, in addition to stage fog and strobe lights, a few sexual references, strong language and comic book variety of violence.
Millbrook's production is directed and choreographed by Todd L. Underwood, who gets good marks for the choreography, although some of his directing choices merit scrutiny. For instance, where "Little Shop ... '' calls for a trio of sultry street walkers, this production uses "street urchins," with a member of the traditionally female trio replaced by Philip Bolton, the funny Cowardly Lion in "The Wizard of Oz." There is no apparent reason for this switch but the trio does continually roam around the Skid Row shop commenting and cajoling. And their version of "(Skid Row) Downtown" - not the Petula Clark hit - is the show's most hummable tune.
The other musical number of note is the wistful "Suddenly Seymour," which is the show's signature song.
On a more major concern is how creative the director has gotten to create Audrey 2. At the beginning of Act II and throughout the rest of the show, the fully grown plant, standing 12-15 feet tall and played by Amy Lang, is harassing Seymour to "Feed Me."
Several in last weekend's audience laughed heartily at the human alien plant form, and it certainly is a novel twist on the traditional creation and staging of the man- and woman-eating plant.
If anyone is looking for a moral in "Little Shop ... ," it's easy to simply say be careful what you wish for. But moreover, "Little Shop..." also warns you to be be wary of who is doing the promising, because of the hefty price - maybe global domination - that may have to be paid.
Although there are heaps of dark humor and a funny - but not a happy - ending, "Little Shop of Horrors" is a tongue-in-cheek musical, often hilarious, which will satisfy most theatergoers as off-beat summertime entertainment.
For more information, contact the Millbrook box office at 570-748-8083 or visit www.millbrookplayhouse.org.