When in search of a musical to take pleasure in throughout the vacation season, a darkish, doo-wop-styled comedy primarily based on a man-eating plant won’t be the very first thing that involves thoughts. However TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s efficiency of “Little Store of Horrors,” set in San Francisco’s Chinatown, is a must-watch that leaves one pondering societal points, reflections particularly pertinent throughout this supposed time of pleasure.
The present began with a doo-wop trio (Naima Akakham, Alia Hodge and Lucca Troutman) in sequined attire and matching vibrant heels, serving because the present’s Greek refrain and introducing the viewers to the setting. The story follows meek florist Seymour (Phil Wong) who works in an unsuccessful flower store run by Mr. Mushnik (Lawrence-Michael C. Arias). Wanting to save lots of coworker Audrey (Sumi Yu) from her sadist boyfriend Orin (Nick Nakashima), Seymour cultivates a human-eating plant, creatively named Audrey II (voiced by Katrina Lauren McGraw and manipulated by Brandon Leland), he should determine what he’ll threat for fame and fortune.
The novelty of this efficiency was the resetting of the situation, which was modified from New York’s Skid Row to San Francisco’s Chinatown. Though the script and lyrics remained similar to the unique, the main actors had been all Asian-American whereas the singing trio had been all Black. The main target of the present shifted correspondingly from a poor white space within the Nineteen Sixties to a modern-day Chinatown plagued with gentrification, whose residents fought to take care of its cultural id.
The manufacturing high quality of “Little Store” was top-notch from the beginning. The set was extremely detailed and cell: a rotating turntable set of the flower store showcased each the inside and exterior of the shop. Behind it, the facade of a Chinatown constructing with shirts and roasted geese dangling from home windows immersed the viewers within the cultural and geographical setting. The props too, had been distinctive: the present used puppets designed by Matthew McAvene Creations to characterize Audrey II, a plant that moved in life-like methods. The colourful, up to date costumes had been designed by Fukimo Bielefeldt. Bielefeldt obtained her begin in costume design when taking a category at Stanford, the place her husband was instructing.
The viewers was warned earlier than the present of potential lighting difficulties, however other than a number of moments the place mics lower out, all the things ran easily.
Other than the casting and set, small adjustments in blocking and props accentuated the tradition. Within the opening scene, Mushnik sat behind a big newspaper and nibbled from a Chinese language meals takeout container. The identical dance quantity features a broomstick variation of tinikling, a Filipino fashion of dance wherein performers leap over picket poles.
With parts such because the absurdity of a speaking plant, a sadist’s dream profession as a dentist and ridiculous members of the press, “Little Store’s” humor is thought for being overly theatrical. TheaterWorks’ present had spectacular deliveries of the music and dances regardless of the plot being odd and never extremely deep. The screenplay itself will not be extremely compelling: the love story between Seymour and Audrey isn’t convincing, and the tragedies aren’t heart-wrenching. Nonetheless, the present was enjoyable, wacky, energetic and amusing. It made the delicate query concerning the altering id of Chinatown really feel accessible to a various viewers.
If you happen to’re in search of a efficiency that explores Asian-American cultural id with parts of the supernatural, “Little Store of Horrors” might be the right present for you this vacation season.
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s “Little Store of Horrors” will probably be taking part in at Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto from November thirtieth via December 24.
Editor’s Be aware: This text is a overview and contains subjective ideas, opinions and critiques.