Whitireia Performance Centre, 25-27 Vivian Street, Wellington

14/09/2017 - 22/09/2017

Production Details

Whitireia Theatre presents the classic, hilarious, cult sci-fi/horror show Little Shop of Horrors

Timid Seymour acquires a Venus flytrap that he discovers has turned into a flesh eating alien being. The plant grows huge and becomes a celebrity making Seymour a hero but will it get him the girl?

Little Shop of Horrors is a rock musical in the style of doo-wop and Motown with numerous catchy tunes accompanied by a six–piece band under the stewardship of Kate Marshall.

The cast of 15 is played by the talented Musical theatre course of 2017 with direction by Alan Palmer and choreography by Leigh Evans. 

Whitireia Theatre
14 – 22 September at 7.30 pm.
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AUDREY Juliane Estella
MR. MUSHNIK Taylor Salton
CRYSTAL Ella Monnery
RONETTE Mia Alonso-Green
CHIFFON Greer Samuel
WINO / ENSEMBLE Ihaia Rimene
Sophie Farrow
Veronica Grace
Rose Harbour
Claudia Holmstead-Morris

Keys #1: Kate Marshall
Keys #2: James Illingworth
Guitar: Samuel Smith-Nakamura
Bass: Blain Fitzpatrick
Drums: Reuben Bradley
Voice of Audrey II: Chris Crowe

Director Alan Palmer
Musical Director / Course Coordinator Kate Marshall
Musical Staging and Direction Leigh Evans
Vocal / Accent Coach Jane Keller Craig Beardsworth
Stage Manager / Production Assistant Shaun Martin
Lighting Operator Vernon Prime, Dylan Fa’atui
Sound Designer Chris Harris
Sound Operator Chris Hayward
Sound Supplied by Cipher Consulting
Production / Technical Designer Jason Longstaff
Stage Hands Hannah Neville & John Va’a
Poster Design Ben Emerson
Programme Design Taylor Salton 

Theatre , Musical ,

Up-and-coming talent wows

Review by Jo Hodgson 17th Sep 2017

When someone mentions the title Little Shop of Horrors, do you remember the original 1960s movie or are you of a certain vintage, like me, so conjure up specific images and memories associated with the cult/sci-fi musical movie from the mid 80s?

The story of Seymour Krelborn, the downtrodden shop hand at Mushnik’s Skid Row Florists, who discovers a “rare and interesting plant” during a “To-tal e-clipse of the Sun”! (sorry, I can’t say that without punctuating its rhythm). This innocuous seeming plant, The Audrey ll (named after Seymour’s co-worker Audrey) has an insatiable hunger but for what, Seymour has yet to discover.

Three school drop-outs Crystal, Ronette and Chiffon, (named after and styled on the 60s do-wop girl bands) act like the Greek chorus providing the narrative and building the suspense from the opening prologue in this horror-pastiche, foretelling that something appearing innocent could reach epic and terrifying proportions.

The Whitireia stage is edged with separated white flats graduated in height to represent the city scape. On to these, projection and lighting effects create the locational backdrop and atmosphere. Through the window-like gaps we see into a local skid row dive where the excellent show band (Kate Marshall, James Illingworth, Samuel Smith-Nakamura, Blain Fitzpatrick, Reuben Bradley) rock out.

This production is a graduation show for those completing their second year diploma or their third year degree and these students are supported ably by the first year students in the larger ensemble numbers. The whole cast is well drilled by director Alan Palmer, musical director Kate Marshall, with musical staging and direction from Leigh Evans.

Ella Monnery’s Crystal is exceptionally strong in both dance and vocals and she is adeptly supported by Mia Alonso-Green (Ronette) and Greer Samuel (Chiffon) and all three collectively deliver out standing performances with slick choreography, sassy soulful harmony singing and witty character interpretation.

Konrad Makisi as Seymour gives us a compelling and assured performance. His voice has an easy warm tone, particularly in ‘Suddenly Seymour’and I can hear huge development in it since last year’s show, Smokey Joe’s Cafe. He convincingly makes the switch, both theatrically and vocally, from a shy, bumbling nice guy to being led astray by the plant while still struggling with the moral dilemma of the need for dead bodies!

Juliane Estella portrays the oppressed Audrey with enormous heart and I personally love that she doesn’t become a caricature of what has been done before, although my young theatre student companion is surprised she ‘didn’t do the voice’. Her vocals have a rich clarity and a strong-supported belt when needed. Her straight faced delivery of humorous dialogue is excellent as is the sincerity and connection to her through-story. ‘Somewhere that’s Green’ and ‘Suddenly Seymour’ are clear stand out moments.

Taylor Salton has the more difficult task of convincingly playing a character a few decades older than himself. He conveys the disgruntled and miserly flower shop owner Mr Mushnik particularly well with great comic timing and through the comedy of the songs ‘Closed for Renovation’and in ‘Mushnik and Son’,which he sings and moves with humour and Yiddish flavour.

The maniacal, sadistic dentist Orin Scrivello, played by first year Jake Elston, bursts onto the scene with focused energy and his portrayal of Audrey’s cruel and domineering boyfriend is suitably creepy. The iconic song ‘Dentist!’ is skillfully played and well received by the audience. 

Third year Hannah McMillan shows her adaptability in several dancing roles and quick change characters with strong vocals, playing the three media producers in ‘The Meek shall Inherit’.

The beauty of theatre is the imaginative process of designing outside the square and the concept for Audrey ll is more like a Backyard Botanical Tardis, with well-known singer Chris Crowe expertly providing the voice in a role I have not heard him in before. He certainly has the chops for it and sounds like he is enjoying the R and B style. 

If you want the chance to experience the excitement of live theatre, be entertained, wowed by up-and-coming young talent and given a chance to dive into your imagination and suspend your disbelief for a couple of hours then head along to this portrayal of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ by the Whitireia Musical Theatre students, tutors and crew. 


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