No two ways about it: The bloodthirsty, flesh-hungry plant Audrey II is the star of Little Shop of Horrors. When she (Eboni Muse) first bellows “Feed me!”, the horror side of Little Shop comes to startling life. Clad in a spectacularly garish costume designed by Amanda Quivey, Muse makes a wildly sinister diva queen.
New Village Arts’ Little Shop of Horrors directed by AJ Knox enjoys a delightful ensemble too, led by Sittichai Chaiyahat as the man-eating plant’s nerdy minder, Seymour. As his co-worker love interest Audrey, the dependable Cashae Monya brings out the lovelier side of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s kitschy songs, while a ubiquitous singing trio (Chris Bona, Natasha Baenisch and Patricia Jewel) evokes the ‘50s when socks were for hopping and B-grade horror movies reigned at drive-ins. Mr. Mushnik of the original musical is Mrs. Mushnik here, with Melissa Fernandes superb in the role, and Philip David Black nails it as sadistic dentist Orin Scrivello. After a strong opening act, the show bogs down a bit, but Audrey II satisfyingly chews the scenery throughout.
(Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 6/19/19.)
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat