Q Theatre, 305 Queen St, Auckland

01/11/2012 - 01/12/2012

Production Details

Spreading the tendrils of joy at Christmas time! 

From the creators of hit Broadway musicals BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and THE LITTLE MERMAID, comes LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS a madcap, delightfully scary and quirky joy of a musical, opening at Q theatre from November 1.

Starring Rima Te Wiata as the voice of Audrey II, Tim Carlsen as Seymour, Colleen Davis as Audrey, Andrew Grainger as the Dentist and Paul Barrett as Mr Musnik, and featuring Bella Kalolo, Rosita Vai and Brownyn Turei as the Motown styled shoop-shooping Ronnettes.

Geeky florist Seymour spends day in day out slaving away in Mr Musnik’s Florists, dreaming about the glamorous and bubble headed Audrey. Until one day he stumbles upon a strange and exotic new plant that could change his luck forever.

An overnight success, the newly christened Audrey II offers Seymour a ticket out of Skid Row and perhaps even a chance of a date with the real life Audrey.

But Audrey II ain’t no ordinary shrub, she’s an ill-tempered, foul-mouthed, R&B singing carnivore.

One of the longest running and most successful off-Broadway musicals of all time. Hilarious, charming, and packed full of unforgettable tunes, including Downtown, Suddenly Seymour and Somewhere That’s Green, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS never fails to entertain.

“With its wonderfully geeky hero, a demented dentist, a goofy girl and a singing plant, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS was the first major success for multiple Academy Award-winning creative duo Howard Ashman and Alan Menken.” says Colin McColl, ATC’s Artistic Director.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, on May 17, 1950, Howard Ashman was a highly successful lyricist, librettist, playwright, and director. He received his MFA from Indiana University before moving to New York in 1974. Two years later, Ashman teamed with Menken for the first time creating a musical version of Kurt Vonnegut’s “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.” They went on to write the musical version of Roger Corman’s 1960 cult film “Little Shop of Horrors” and won critical raves and awards including the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical of 1982-83. The off-beat show was transformed into a motion picture by Frank Oz in 1986, subsequently winning the musical duo their first Academy Award nominations.

As a producer and lyricist for Disney, Ashman made a huge splash in the world of animation. His first credit, “The Little Mermaid,” which he co-produced with John Musker, won an Oscar for Best Song. “Beauty and the Beast”, the first animated film nominated for an Academy Award for Best Motion Picture, gained him his first executive producing credit with Disney. The film’s title song won him a second Oscar. The Off-Broadway production of the show transferred to Broadway in 1994 and has gone on to become one of the ten longest running musicals in Broadway history.

Alan Menken is best known for his numerous scores for films produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. His scores for “The Little Mermaid”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Aladdin”, and “Pocahontas” have each won him two Academy Awards. He also composed the scores for THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, HERCULES, THE LAST CASTLE, HOME ON THE RANGE, ENCHANTED, and TANGLED. Menken has collaborated on several occasions with lyricists, including Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, Glenn Slater, and Stephen Schwartz. Having won a total of eight Oscars, he has won more Oscars than any other living individual. He has been Oscar-nominated a total of nineteen times.

“LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS is a delightful, toe-tapping experience which has spread its tentacles of pleasure and scariness far from its off-Broadway origins.” –Colin McColl

November 1 – December 2
Q Theatre, 305 Queen St

Tickets can be purchased from Q, 305 Queen Street, 09 309 9771

Rima Te Wiata – Audrey II
Tim Carlson – Seymour
Colleen Davis – Audrey
Andrew Grainger – The Dentist
Paul Barrett – Mr Musnik
Kyle Cheun – puppeteer
The Ronettes:
Bella Kalolo
Rosita Vai
Bronwyn Turei 

Elizabeth Whiting – Costume Design
Tracey Collins – Set Design

Triffically Entertaining

Review by Matt Baker 05th Nov 2012

Anyone who has an appreciation of ‘60s doo-wop or classic musical theatre will be entertained by ATC’s production of Little Shop of Horrors, because it is the musical talent that not only carries this show, but gives it some emotional depth and journey. While the entire creative team jointly recognises and illustrates their influences and intentions both in the programme and on stage, the clearest, strongest, and most unique creative voice comes from musical director Jason Te Mete. As always, simplicity proves to be the key with Te Mete containing the orchestration to a 4-piece band consisting of himself (piano), Tyson Smith (guitar), Robert Drage (bass), and Andrew Rooney (drums). 

Sandra Rasmussen’s choreography acknowledges that this show does not require triple-threat talent, but nevertheless gives the actors some range to tell the story within the space provided. Director Simon Coleman evidently has an overall vision for the show, and while everyone involved clearly understands it, and the totality of the production is overwhelmingly extravagant not to mention entertaining, there is a lack of subtlety in some of the story’s simpler moments. [More


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Flower power with a dark edge

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 05th Nov 2012

Stylishly updated musical strikes right note to deliver a hugely entertaining show  

Auckland Theatre Company has struck exactly the right mix of comic book irony and raw energy in their stylish updating of Little Shop of Horrors.

The musical is a curious hybrid that began life as a horror flick spoof from schlock-meister Roger Corman before morphing into an off-Broadway phenomenon with an appealing mix of sci-fi weirdness and kitschy cornball humour.

Although there is plenty of seriously psychotic mayhem the best moments come from a sweet love story that feels like it was lifted straight off the cheap newsprint of a 50s True Romance comic. [More


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Full potential yet to explode

Review by Nik Smythe 04th Nov 2012

Mounting a production of such a beloved cult classic musical is a double-edged sword it seems.  A good amount of the promotional work has already been done, and a proportion of any given audience will already be primed to hum/sing/toe-tap along with the cast in the tested-and-approved musical numbers, and to chuckle or laugh out loud with the ingenious script.

Consequently however, these inevitably built-up expectations can carry major pitfalls.  A new production could either be too derivative of, and/or fail to match the magnificence of the beloved iconic precedents.  Anyone who’s seen the brilliant classic 1986 Frank Oz-directed motion picture (and who hasn’t?) would agree that virtually every performance in it is a hard act to follow.

I can’t speak for ATC’s version from a first-time layman’s perspective as I am indeed a big fan of not only the film, but of the whole colourful history of the work stemming from Roger Corman’s legendary B-grade 1960 comedy horror.  In any case, it tends to be the kind of show that, once you’ve watched it you want to see again even more than you did before you had.  Like a Greek tragedy, the intrigue is less in the story than in the telling of it.

Tim Carlsen’s intrepid depiction of lead wimp Seymour Krelborn takes the pathetic, clumsy archetype fully by the horn-rimmed glasses.  His inferiority complex is only exceeded by that of his unrequited love interest Audrey, to whom Colleen Davis similarly brings great heart and hilarity, not to mention extraordinary vocal power.  Paul Barrett completes the fundamental triangle with his superbly long-suffering failed-then-flourishing florist Mr. Mushnik, complete with shaggy grey Einstein-hair. 

Andrew Grainger does a great job with an eclectic array of incidental characters, but falls short in what is arguably the character most loaded with expectation thanks to Steve Martin: Orin Scrivello, better known to fans as ‘the Dentist’.  The character is loathsomely menacing enough, but his strange enunciation is distracting in the chorus of his signature song Dentist! – namely pausing in the middle of the word ‘dentist’, making it hard to discern as well as dragging the musical impetus.

Also filling various ensemble roles with aplomb, Rima Te Wiata and Kyle Chuen cogently synch their estimable skills, respectively vocalising and puppeteering the villainous, badass funkmeister of a space-vegetable Audrey II, as she/it is not-too-subtly named by its discoverer Seymour. 

The soundtrack’s harmonic backbone is outstandingly exemplified in the sassy attitudes and soulful wailings of Bella Kalolo, Rosita Vai and Bronwyn Turei as street-urchin chorus girls Crystal, Chiffon and Ronette. 

The musical composition of Alan Menken is naturally quintessential to the success of the franchise, as of course are Howard Ashman’s comical script and accomplished lyrics, like Seymour’s wistful lament: “I keep asking God what I’m for / He tells me, ‘gee, I’m not sure.’”

Most of the essential components that make the success of this kind of production are present, but something in Simon Coleman’s direction seems to hold the performance back from reaching its explosive potential, which we really only glimpsed on opening night.  The energy and strength brought by the sterling efforts of the cast are undermined somewhat by noticeably anti-climactic moments.

One conspicuously sparing element is Sandra Rasmussen’s rudimentary-at-best choreography.  Whether her decision or Coleman’s, its strange that more advantage is not taken of the boogie-woogie rhythms in the more danceable pieces.  

To some degree the cast manages to appear and sound greater than the sum of its nine parts, particularly in the set-piece Skid Row/Downtown.  Likewise the instrumental chops of the accompanying four-piece band led by musical director Jason Te Mete; actually it would be nice if the band were more visible than they are, hidden behind Tracey Collins’ monolithic, movable backdrop.

As far as vocal comprehension goes, the only two characters I could consistently understand were Audrey (the woman, not the plant) and Mushnik. The chorus girls certainly bring great lung power to their roles and are the next most intelligible, whilst Seymour and Audrey II’s words are often lost, particularly in the speedier, more verbose numbers such as Feed Me (Git it)

Tracey Collins towering grey oblong-heavy set design, with about 30 windows of varying sizes and quadrangular shapes, efficiently evokes the oppressively depressive ghetto of Skid Row, somewhere in a forgotten back-alley of the bowels of downtown New York City. 

Brad Gledhill’s lighting design provides a number of dynamic visual features, from the opening laser-lights to the abstract gobos, messily splashed like so much urban trash across the set to symbolise street signs, shop clocks and other assorted atmospheric images. 

As for Elizabeth Whiting’s conservatively ostentatious costume design, the 60s era is sufficiently represented in the cuts and colour combo of Seymour’s pastel peach and yellow, Audrey’s hot pink and Mushnik’s muted purple.  Meanwhile the chorus girls’ frocks alternate between colourful, busily screen-printed street-wear and the lurid green plant-suits they sport while giving back-up vocal support to Audrey II.

Not specifically credited, I presume the look of the plant must also be part of Collins’ set design (?).  If there’s always been any potential for a Freudian interpretation of the Audrey II character, this example leaves nothing to question.  Bulbous and pink (with green extremities), the vertical mouth could hardly be more yonic except maybe if it had a Brazilian, while the globular dangly bits are inescapably testicular. 

I’m unsure whether this determinedly genital appearance can be explained with any convincing relevance to the subtext of the story; nonetheless the inflatable rubber puppets, variously sized from a small pot plant to an enormous vege-monster, are appealing and impressive enough to constitute a popular talking point, if slightly limited in mobility.

The opening night audience was consistently entertained throughout the two-hours plus, culminating in respectably sincere applause at the curtain call.  The appealing elements of ATC’s presentation outweigh the shortcomings, but one feels that in a show of this nature the energy should build to a hysterical, frenzied ovation, rather than the comparatively polite one it received. 

One hopes the overall power will improve during the season as the company finds their optimum levels. 


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