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Perfectly Gross 

You could call it “dark

Feed me, Seymour: Laura Kelly gets devoured by Audrey II in Woodlawn Theatre’s Little Shop of Horrors.
Little Shop of Horrors
7:30pm Fri & Sat
Through Nov 18
$20 general; $15 senior, military; $12 student
Woodlawn Theatre
1920 Fredericksburg
You could call it “dark.” A fellow theatergoer declared it “gross.” These words aptly describe the musical Little Shop of Horrors, but in this instance were instead applied to the venue producing it.

I’ve got a word for it: perfection.

The recently reopened Woodlawn Theatre, still under renovation, has the delightful ambience of a place you sneak into just to see what it’s like after hours. If you’ll imagine arriving at a dingy antique store or a “haunted” choir loft, and being surprised by friends putting on a play for you, you’ll have an idea of what Little Shop at the Woodlawn is like. The environment is splendidly suited for this eccentric cult classic.

Seymour Krelborn, played by Peter Morlet, has spent countless hours in Mushnik’s Flower Shop on seedy Skid Row, cultivating the Audrey II — a plant that could make him famous. Morlet looks a bit less like Rick Moranis and more like a tall Rivers Cuomo (how cool would that be for a comeback?), and he really makes it happen with a stunning voice and a physicality that belies Seymour’s deep lack of self-confidence.

When Seymour isn’t being manipulated by his bottom-liner boss, Mushnik (an adequate Jarrod Vallejos), he dreams of a future with Audrey II’s namesake, a been-around-the-block blond with a taste for bad boyfriends, portrayed by Laura Kelly, who nails that Betty Boop-ish accent and all of her songs.
In this world of sadistic dentists and (awesome) doo-wop singers, horticulture is a major turn-on, and Seymour is forced to make (offer, whatever) sacrifices to continue his success after discovering Audrey II’s taste for blood.

Embarrassingly, my only previous experience with any incarnation of Little Shop of Horrors is Roger Corman’s 1960 film, which (a) is just slightly more technologically advanced than The Great Train Robbery, and (b) don’t be fooled, Jack Nicholson is only onscreen for a whopping total of about 3 minutes. Anyway, what I’m getting at is that I could kick myself for not predicting the demise of anyone singing “Somewhere That’s Green.”

Bravo to director Jonathan Pennington, who took a risk casting Alisa Claridy as the voice of Audrey II — traditionally a male role. Claridy’s robust and sometimes rough tones filled the hell out of that space, and added a whole new layer to the character. This time I have two words: vagina dentate.

Little Shop of Horror’s stage is minimally lit, with all of the nuts and bolts exposed — an unusual sight for a graduate of Trinity and its “no seams” (albeit beautiful) style of set design. But it’s really a contribution to the overall Brechtian experience, making the $20 ticket price sound all the more reasonable.

From the trivia in the program to the concessions (including Junior Mints and margaritas!) for sale in the lobby, Little Shop at the Woodlawn is a fun diversion as suitable for the whole family as it is for a night out with your pals. Just don’t bring anyone who’s afraid of a little mess.

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