Little Shop of Horrors review: Drag star Vicky Vox breathes fresh life into monstrously camp revival ★★★★
Little Shop of Horrors may be 36 years old, but the vibrant and campy new take at London’s Open Air Theatre manages to still feel fresh.
The fabulously silly story of a monster plant from outer space can easily go awry on stage, but Maria Aberg’s revival embraces the wackiness and tacky props that give the musical a glorious B-movie sheen.
Marc Antolin charms as meek and mild orphan Seymour, who stumbles upon fame and fortune when he finds a mysterious plant – while Jemima Rooper’s stellar turn as the fragile romantic Audrey brings life to the show’s best musical numbers, “Somewhere That’s Green” and “Suddenly, Seymour.”
Drag star Vicky Vox, best known in these parts for mega-viral parody “Boy is a Bottom”, delivers charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to the role of alien plant Audrey II – a clever casting choice that adds a wonderful new layer to the show. Really, it’s hard to think of anyone better suited to the role of man-eating plant than a drag queen.
Vox nails the character, and the show wisely avoids over-reliance on the giant plant puppets of productions past to allow her to fully shine.
It has to be said that Vox’s vocals get more of a workout here than they did in drag pop group DWV.
While there’s moments where the show’s belters head outside her natural range, the note-perfect cast is always on hand to assist.
The Greek Chorus of Renée Lamb, Seyi Omooba and Christina Modestou adeptly anchor the show, all bringing a natural sense of fun to proceedings.
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There could not be a more perfect venue for Little Shop than the Open Air Theatre, which is in itself one of the most consistently captivating stages in London, weather-permitting.
The bleak grey staging of Skid Row stands in stark contrast with the lush background of Regent’s Park, and the show takes full advantage of the naturally-changing light levels over the evening to weave some magic into the production.
It’s these subtle shifts that perfectly complement the material and allow the entire cast to truly shine. There’s a few minor creative choices that misfire, but overall the show is remarkably cohesive and slick.
This gloriously fun, campy production is not to be missed.