Black-comedy rock musical a triumph

2009-04-02 00:00

BRYAN Hiles and a monumental puppet are the undoubted stars of KickstArt’s black-comedy rock musical, Little Shop of Horrors — but they get plenty of support from an enthusiastic cast that includes Lisa Bobbert, Aaron McIlroy and Peter Court.

It’s the first time that Little Shop has been staged professionally in Durban and from the opening bars of the “Prologue”, those of us watching just knew we were in for a treat.

Directed by Steven Stead, the show boasts a wonderful set designed by Greg King, and an array of puppets designed by King and Wendy Henstock, to show the voracious Audrey II in her various stages of growth.

Toiling away inside the killer plant, voiced by the wonderful Tim Wells, is KickstArt stalwart Chris Randall. Both men were rewarded with ample applause for their efforts, which helped transform an inanimate object into an amazing, scene-stealing character.

Hiles is perfectly cast as Seymour, the hapless shop assistant and would-be botanist who buys “a strange and unusual” plant from a Chinese man, little realising that this alien creature has plans for world domination.

His performances in Grow for Me, Mushnik and Son (with Court), Git It! (with Audrey II) and Suddenly Seymour (with Bobbert) were outstanding, showcasing his wonderful vocal ability, some excellent dance moves and his great comic timing.

Bobbert is also well cast as the ditzy Audrey, who doesn’t believe she deserves a good man and so chooses to spend time with men who treat her badly, like the sadistic dentist Orin Scrivello. Her rendition of Somewhere That’s Green is especially poignant and memorable.

McIlroy, meanwhile, is superb as the detestable dentist and had the audience laughing out loud from the moment he arrived on stage on a scooter. There are also fine performances from Court, who plays Seymour’s florist shop boss; girl-group singers Pume Zondi, Londiwe Dhlomo and Belinda Henwood; and Liam Magner and Jacobus van Heerden, who play everything from hobos to talent agents in the show.

Little Shop is a triumph and well worth the trip to Durban to see. See it before the run ends on April 19.

Estelle Sinkins

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