Posts Tagged ‘Little Shop of Horrors

06
Jun
16

Little Shop of Horrors

 

Little Shop of Horrors

Luckiest Productions & Tinderbox Productions

In association with QPAC

QPAC Playhouse

June 1 – 12 2016

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

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Roger Corman’s The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) was a pretty terrible movie; it was largely improvised on a set built for a different movie, but when Howard Ashman (Book & Lyrics) and Alan Menken (Music) penned a musical adaptation for the stage it quickly became a cult classic on Off-Broadway and on screen. This production, by Luckiest Productions and Tinderbox Productions is the best Little Shop we’ve seen; it’s superbly designed and directed, and boasts a stellar cast that brings the original sci-fi story to vibrant life as if for the first time.

Despite the smart commercial decision to put this tiny set and its enormous plant into QPAC’s Playhouse rather than its Cremorne Theatre – and I don’t know the dimensions, I just loathe the empty space around contained, touring sets – it looks fantastic… Imagine though, what it would feeeeeel like to be literally surrounded by the plant! How much more would that cost??? A sophisticated schlock-injected film noir aesthetic draws us into a black and white world, just like Dorothy’s home in Kansas before she’s tossed into the Technicolor of Oz (I remember when we tried to fix the settings on our big enormous twelve-inch screen the first time we were allowed to stay up late to see The Wizard of Oz televised!). And it’s not just the set, it’s the whole of Skid Row, metaphorically grey, drained of all vibrant colour until Audrey II – and money and fame and true love – enter their lives. This is bold and inspired design (Set by Owen Phillips, Lighting by Ross Graham, Costumes by Tim Chappel and the plant, created by Erth Visual & Physical Inc), right down to Audrey’s on-trend grey hair, the black flower heads and stems, newspaper print with which to wrap them, the white plastic crime scene/Psycho shower curtain, and the shadows creeping up the walls of the shop; a creepy pre-cursor of the horrors to come.

The dark themes of Little Shop are heightened here but not dwelt upon and I wouldn’t hesitate to take ten-year old Poppy, however; Opening Night clashed with a school disco so she had to consider her priorities… The school disco won.

In the iconic roles of Audrey and Seymour, made famous in the movie musical (1986) by Ellen Greene and Rick Moranis, Esther Hannaford and Brent Hill stun us. I’ve never seen a truly original take on either character, but Hannaford and Hill have recreated these two, and in doing so, have also discovered an entirely new perspective on the unlikely relationship; it’s a sweeter, stronger dynamic. We love it. I adored Hannaford in King Kong, and as the vulnerable and self-destructive Audrey it’s as if she’s revisited the very essence of that era of filmmaking and also, the shadow of every domestic violence victim in the world. She’s certainly the tallest, leanest bombshell of all time, but at the same time so fragile… Hannaford finds a way to make every moment genuine; it’s about what’s going on behind the eyes, despite her entire time on stage being all about her gangly presence and OTT posturing. Delightfully awkward.

Hannaford has said she didn’t focus on her singing until age 18 but she’s become one of our best, able to move effortlessly between speaking and singing without the irritating change in tone. I’ve never heard Somewhere That’s Green so beautifully shaped to make us ache and hope and remember to breathe. One of the comments Penny Mullen and I have made, as the judges of the Sunshine Plaza Breakthru comp for schools, is that as the kids get older and sing the same songs, the meaning of the songs will continue to change. I’ve heard Audrey’s song sung by so many young girls whom, thank goodness, have no understanding of it as anything more than a dream of having somewhere pretty to live, but Hannaford finds every bruise and broken bone in it. Heartbreaking.

And Suddenly Seymour is a showstopper. Hill and Hannaford are perfectly matched and clearly enjoy every moment of their duet. But before we stop raving about Hannaford, I love love LOVE her breathy lower register, the European immigrant influenced New York twang, and the precision pause-for-effect tactics that have us in the palm of her hand from the outset. Is Hannaford the most underrated musical comedy performer in the country?

Director, Dean Bryant, is brilliant. I love his global view; his ability to hone in on the small and truly epic stuff in a single moment; the comedy and real vulnerability in the tragedy (Sweet Charity for Hayes Theatre, Anything Goes for Opera Australia/GFO, I’ll Eat You Last, Priscilla and GAYBIES, anyone? And Christie Whelan Brown’s Britney Spears: The Cabaret, and Michael Griffiths’ In Vogue: Songs By Madonna and Sweet Dreams: Songs By Annie Lennox). Bryant takes a big bite out of what we thought we’d acquired a taste for before spitting it out and plating it up as a new, stunning winning dish. Amazing. And surprising that he hasn’t yet been lured overseas for a bigger bite of the cherry.

Little Shop of Horrors exceeds all expectations. It’s brilliant. Don’t miss it. 

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Hill was an awesome Lonny in Rock of Ages and he doesn’t disappoint as Seymour. A terrific singer and actor, Hill embraces Seymour’s nerdiness without making him pathetic. His tentativeness is endearing and when he finds the strength within to challenge the plant he elevates the character to hero status. He actually voices the plant too, an extraordinary accomplishment, making him a real multi-tasking musical theatre hero. Can you imagine that conversation with Director, Dean Bryant? You want me to do whaaaaaat?! And look, it doesn’t work perfectly – we miss some of the words, which we know are so witty and cheeky and funny, but it’s a very clever device.

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The urchins (Chloe Zuel, Josie Lane & Angelique Cassimatis) are suitably too cool for school and emanate a wonderful Hispanic flava: this from Crystal (Cassimatis) and Chiffon (Lane). As Ronette, Zuel raises the cool stakes through the roof, a magnet for the eyes. Together they are Avenue Q’s West Side Story girls. I missed Cassimatis in her show, Guilty Pleasures recently because TIMING, but after this performance I won’t hesitate to reschedule things to see her the next time she’s in town. Together these girls are quite formidable; powerhouse voices and perfect harmonies, slick chorey by Andrew Hallsworth, and sufficient sass to make any secondary teacher’s stomach turn. Yes, I had a moment of gratitude that there are times I get to work with some of the best kids on the Sunshine Coast!

Tyler Coppin (he was pure evil magic in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), makes Mushnik his Jewish own, easily surpassing all previous efforts I’ve seen to reinvent this role, and Scott Johnson brings us a genuinely dumb dentist (made famous in the film by Steve Martin and on the Sunshine Coast by Sam Coward), drawing on the same level of energy and wit that we saw from Vincent Hooper and Jake Ambrose in Heathers. (American footballers, I’m sorry, but there’s usually a reason a stereotype sticks).

Brisbane’s (and Brisbane’s) Dash Kruck plays multiple characters superbly, and as much as I enjoy Hill’s performance, I can’t resist saying aloud online that I’d LOVE to see Kruck’s Seymour. As Hill’s understudy, if you happen to get him for a matinee or an evening performance at QPAC I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Kuki Tipoki is another enigmatic performer with little stage time, but that’s because he’s a talented musician, and he plays guitar in the band. Under the masterful hand of Noosa’s favourite MD Andrew Worboys, this band is tight and funky and fun. Despite minor issues early on (some vocal distortion, some slow lighting cues, whatevs), the look and sound of the show is terrific.

Bryant is actually brilliant. I love his global view; his ability to hone in on the small and truly epic stuff in a single moment; the comedy in the tragedy (a-hem, Sweet Charity for Hayes Theatre, Anything Goes for Opera Australia/GFO, I’ll Eat You Last, Priscilla and GAYBIES, anyone? And Christie Whelan Brown’s Britney Spears: The Cabaret, and Michael Griffiths’ In Vogue: Songs By Madonna and Sweet Dreams: Songs By Annie Lennox). Bryant is one of our brightest, taking a big bite out of what we thought we’d acquired a taste for before spitting it out and plating it up as a new, stunning winning dish. Amazing.

Bryant’s Little Shop of Horrors exceeds all expectations, setting a new standard in the small scale revivals realm. 

23
Nov
10

Get Threaded

You may not be familiar with this term. I would like to say I coined it but I know, even before conferring with my good friend, Google, that that would be an outrageous lie. And, anyway, just look at what my good friend Google did find:

Indeed! A local business called…Get Threaded! You can take a look for yourself. N.B. This is NOT where I first experienced the ancient art of threading however, this IS where I’ll be going to from now on because Chermside’s Wink Bar is too pink for me and too far to visit every 4-6 weeks. I will say that it was pretty-pink-convenient to walk by, realise what was going on, walk on into without having made an appointment, and be treated with threading and a tint in just under 12 minutes, between the purchases of Wittner shoes and a Veronika Maine LBD. Look, a girl needs to put her feet up during such a spree and every seat was taken at Shingle Inn

Also because my extensive research showed 6 mutual friends on Facebook – that’s 6 degrees of separation, kids – between me and Get Threaded,  I thought, “It’s a siiiiiiiiiiiign…

In case you didn’t click on that link right there, here is the NBC story that helped spread the craze in the states. Incidentally, because I know there is NO craze without Oprah’s say-so, I looked for a clip from her show…and it seems there is an opportunity for somebody there…

 

 

Now when I look for my nearest practitioner, I find that these guys are suddenly EVERYWHERE

 

 

This is really important. It’s something your mother probably told you. If not your mother, your best friend or agent or photographer. I should mention that Kurt Sneddon has never offered any tips about brows to me personally but he is acknowledged, when it comes to headshots, as the best in the business and so it goes without saying that if you’re an actor requiring new headshots, which I am, you will do the courtesy of prepping your brows, which I am doing. Only then, will you be truly ready for your close-up, which I will have to be (because it’s booked now) for the 8th of December!

The eyes may be the windows to the soul but the brows frame them. Put simply, if you are in the public eye then you had better have great shaped brows.

Not to mention, it’s not really ever acceptable to sit down to Christmas dinner sporting the unkempt kind. Not even in Australia. Just saying. I mean, you have probably done enough this year already to offend the family.

Below are some examples of undesirable eyebrow shapes. Tragically, there are many more. In fact, there are LISTS of Best and Worst Celebrity Brows. Well, of course there are! In order that we mortals might know better. Try to avoid the following styles or any variations thereof.

 

UNDESIRABLE NO 1

UNDESIRABLE NO 2

 

UNDESIRABLE NO 3

Also, try to avoid pretty much everything you see next. It just won’t work…for you. Miranda Sings has a unique style and though many have tried, there is no one else in the world who can pull it off. Haters, back off. I happen to be a big fan.

 

 

As you can see, eyebrows are difficult to tame. And even more difficult to maintain. In fact, if you’ve ever seen me, or a picture of me, you would know that to be true. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten it quite right. But I’ll tell you one thing…actually, I’ll tell you two things:

  1. Apparently, threading was conceived by some ingenious Indian women who did not want to use wax on their sensitive skin. It’s a valid point. After centuries, it’s becoming a growing global trend. It’s efficient, its painless, it’s novel and neat. You should try it.
  2. If you do not heed this advice and instead, insist on plucking and ruining your brows (or worse, entrusting them to one who has not yet achieved – and, I dare say, never will – the illustrious title of Eyebrow Designer or Eyebrow Architect), you’d better have a bloody good hairdresser. The fringe will always be in for those with undesirable brows.

To read more about threading, keep an eye (brow) on Nikki Parkinson’s blog Styling You. She tells me she is getting threaded on Friday…