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Little Shop of Horrors at Mount Baker Theatre

I Could Make A Meal Out of That by Marla Bronstein

Once again Mount Baker Theatre has undertaken the challenge of producing all aspects of one of the longest-running off-Broadway shows of all time, a full length musical, interspersing non-equity industry professionals with local talent. In fact, seven of the 13 actors and puppeteers in the show are either originally from Whatcom County or have studied at WWU.

photo credit: Damian Vines

photo credit: Damian Vines

The talented Conner Pierson, as down-and-out skid row floral assistant Seymour Krelborn, is an utter mensch throughout the show. Seymour works for Mr. Mushnik (Curtis Jacobson) who seems to have popped off a 1950’s movie set. Seymour loves co-worker Audrey (Chauncey Trask) from afar. Trask graced us with a gorgeous rendition of “Somewhere That’s Green.” Audrey’s abusive sadistic dentist boyfriend, Orin (Shane Patrick Hoffmann) wins for most evil creepy laugh.

Seymour discovers a “strange and unusual plant”with a craving for fresh blood. “Audrey II” has the ability to bring Seymour fame and fortune in exchange for feeding its growing appetite.

If you know the story, I don’t need to tell you what happens next, if you don’t, be prepared for the absurd and bizarre as you would only see in a 1950’s sci-fi movie.

The film score was written by the songwriting team of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, of Disney fame. The music and lyrics are catchy, memorable and will be firmly planted in your earworm garden.

Every other version of the play I have seen only has three Doo Wop girls. A narrating chorus if you will. Musical Director Rob Viens thankfully did not subscribe to the “less is more” casting Sonia Alexis, Heather McQuarrie, Kristen Natalia, Sarah Russell, Ashley Van Curler and Akilah Williams, all of whom have equally powerful voices who sing, belt and harmonize beautifully.

My other must-mention-because-he-was-hysterical was Evan Woltz, who served as the booming, R&B voice of Audrey II, as well as other miscellaneous characters.

When I saw the 1986 movie with Rick Moranis and Ellen Green, I almost believed the plant talked and ate humans. At live theater, I didn’t expect to watch the plant actually devour the actors as an early evening snack. Ken Michels, Audrey II’s puppeteer, said in his bio that he had a history of playing Audrey II, and from what I saw of the puppet after the show, this is a role that cannot be taken lightly! Michels and Rebecca Cort, the “baby Audrey” puppeteers were thoroughly absorbed in their roles!

In Act II, after the, ahem, exit of the Dentist, Hoffman covers a multitude of other roles that required very quick and creative costume changes. My compliments to costumer Jessica Carr and the crew.

I don’t know where the rest of the artistic team is from, if not the staff of MBT, but charming director, Bud Coleman, has returned to Bellingham after last year’s success with MBT’s The Producers. Local Rob Viens as Musical Director has amassed an amazing band of musicians. John Evans French, Jorge Cantu, Kevin George and Dylan Kane sound like much more than five guys in a pit.

MBT has consistently pulled together phenomenally beautiful sets for their main stage shows. Jim Zoehrer and Randy Storms, working off the designs of Jason Coale (who I understand never stepped foot into MBT) built and painted a stunning set and pulled together a great in-house effect that I won’t ruin for you here. Go see it for yourself.

Note to parents, I observed at least one child leave the theater during intermission in frightened tears at the end of Act I. Act I was tamer than Act II.

Date: Sep 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, 2014 7:30 PM
Sep 27th, 28th 2014 3:00 PM

Price: Tickets $45.00/$40.00/$35.00/$20.00 plus applicable fees. Group discounts available – call (360) 734-6080