For the annual spooky season, Slow Burn Theatre Company is currently putting on a production of the horror comedy “Little Shop of Horrors” at the Broward Center’s Amaturo Theater, and it did not fail to deliver both hysterics and poignant social commentary. South Florida Theater Magazine was present for opening night on Saturday, October 15, only to report back that this is not a show to be missed.
I had no expectations entering the Broward Center; this was my first time seeing this musical and this was my first time at this venue. I saw the source movie the musical version stems from once, and many, many years have passed since that viewing. The only thing I could remember was a large, man-eating plant. But, I’ll get more into that in a second.
The words “Little Shop of Horrors” were illuminated on the black curtain as patrons filled into their seats. Two faux stoops with doors sat on the edges of the stage, creating a run-down, urban setting that I soon learned to be Skid Row. Once the curtains rose, we are introduced to the cast of street urchins suffering from a chronic case of Mo-town.FORT LAUDERDALE FL – OCTOBER 14: Little Shop of Horrors dress rehearsal at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts on October 14, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Photo By Larry Marano © 2022
The roles of Ronnette, Chiffon, and Crystal (played by Khadijah Rolle, Kareema Khouri, and Nayomi Braaf, respectively) combined to form a walking chorus of the majority of the production’s songs; most noticeably amazing during “Skid Row (Downtown).” The set itself expanded and contracted as the illusion of outside and inside the Mushnik flower shop bloomed and wilted with the opening of stage walls. The air was palpable.
As I begin to understand more about this production, I can see why it is still popular almost 40 years after originally premiering: the cast is small, the dialogue is beyond funny, the songs are catchy, and the Audrey II is creepy. The main character, Seymour (Nick Anastasia), is an orphan working at a florist in this poverty-stricken neighborhood. He is mistreated and manipulated by the shop’s owner, Mr. Mushnik (Matthew W. Korinko), while the love of his life, Audrey (Caiti Marlowe), works alongside him. Audrey is in an abusive relationship with a dentist, Orin (Jeffrey Keller). One day, on the appearance of a sudden solar eclipse, Seymour comes across a mysterious plant, and to save the failing floral shop, he puts it on display to attract customers.
Little Shop of Horrors – Nick Anastasia & Matthew Korinko – Photo by Larry Marano
What Seymour does not know is that this plant thrives on blood. After he pricks his finger on a rose, the plant opens its mouth ready for sustenance. He names the plant the Audrey II after his love and feeds it more of his blood. After almost becoming anemic, and discovering the plant can talk (Tarik Zeigler) in “Feed Me (Git It),” Seymour decides that he will feed the abusive dentist Orin to the Audrey II. It affirms Seymour that if he continues to feed it, all his dreams will come true; he’ll escape poverty, he’ll get the girl of his dreams, he’ll finally have a family.
Little Shop of Horrors – Caiti Marlowe as “Audrey” – Photo by Larry Marano