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Little Shop of Horrors, Springers - The Cramphorn Theatre, Chelmsford

I have to admit Little Shop of Horrors is not one of my favourite shows but I have seen it many times, so I am very familiar with it and have often thought what could you do with it to make it stand out from other productions.

This production from Springers was as close to an alternate version, as I have ever seen.

The orchestra under the baton of the new MD Callum Bates immediately showed a strong and polished sound.

The show is held together predominantly by lead characters Seymour and Audrey and Springers definitely have the right people in the right parts for this show. Olivia Rose had all the pathos and characterisation of Audrey not only did she look the part to perfection but her vocals were beautiful.

Seymour played by Jon Newman-Schultz was a joy to watch, and every ounce of him was Seymour. Every facial expression, every movement, every awkward gawkiness was Seymour. He sang extremely well and I found when he was on stage I simply couldn’t take my eyes of him.

Supporting these two great leads were Colin Shoard as Mr Mushnik, who gave a rounded performance as the greedy flower shop owner and Mark Rowell as Orin the Dentist. Mark has all the potential of a great Orin, his stature and his looks are perfectly aligned to the character of a macho, sado masochistic dentist. However, this for me was a very nervous performance, his dialogue was breathy and sometime difficult to understand and I truly wished in his first number he had looked up from the floor more and then when he looked up he opened his eyes so the audience could connect with his performance. If he can relax and let go, then I believe it will be a much more convincing and strong performance.

I have never before seen the plant paid by a physical person before rather than somebody singing offstage while others work an Audrey plant puppet on stage but I loved this idea. Kieran Bedwell was strong and convincing as the man-eating plant but I was disappointed with the sound balance in his number Feed Me, as I found it very difficult to hear him singing when the orchestra were in full throttle as the strong bass guitar was overpowering but when the orchestra pulled back and I could actually hear Kieran singing it left me wanting to hear more.

I must also comment on his absolutely stunning costume, I understand it was made by the mother of a cast member, who clearly has professional level sewing skills to design and create such a fantastic and professional standard outfit. Huge kudos on such an outstanding achievement.

The three girls, Crystal, Chiffon and Ronnette, acted and sang well and were played by Lexy Phillips, Rebecca Webber and Sophie Lines respectively.

The show itself was backed by a good strong chorus in the company numbers with some excellent choreography by Kieran Bedwell.

I loved many of the Directors concepts, with the show starting out in black, white and grey with both the set and costumes and how they slowly added in colour as Audrey grew. I don’t know how many of the audience would’ve noticed the girls colours started by adding just coloured jewellery and worked all the way up to adding coloured cardigan and scarf’s etc.

For me it was all the little touches that I love when watching live performance. All in all, this was a strong show with some excellent performances and some magical touches. If there are any tickets left and you can get them, then you will thoroughly enjoy it!

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