“Little Shop of Horrors” delivers laughs, takes a big bite out of the winter blues

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Saint Louis University Theatre’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” a dark comic musical in the tradition of “Sweeney Todd,” is a show that will make you laugh, squirm and take a second, suspicious look at that plant your roommate brought home from Christmas break.

This cult classic tells the story of Mushnik’s Skid Row Florist Shop as it struggles to keep its doors open. The discovery of a strange and unusual plant by Seymour, who works in the shop as an assistant, catapults the store into the spotlight. Seymour names the plant “Audrey II” after his crush, Audrey, his co-worker at Mushnik’s. But soon, Seymour realizes that his taste for fame is matched only by his new discovery’s taste for human flesh.

The production is set on Skid Row where all the characters live and work during the ’60s. The music is what makes the story, with a rock beat that audiences will find themselves tapping along to with their feet during any of the show’s catchy musical numbers.

The fascinating and quirky characters are energetically brought to life by the show’s talented cast. The Ronettes, a traveling girl group in the style of Motown, serve as a type of Greek chorus, are well-performed by seniors Samantha Affram and Katie Schiermeyer and freshman Kate Winderman.

Their skill helps to pull together the stories of Mushnik, Seymour, Audrey and “Audrey II.” Junior Christian Vieira plays Mr. Mushnik, the owner of Mushnik’s Skid Row Florist Shop, and does a wonderful job of bringing Mushnik to life and making the audience grow-pun intended-to like him. Junior Marcy Wiegert, who plays Audrey, does a great job connecting with the audience and making them identify with her desire for a better life in a sweet, appealing performance. Junior Kevin Boehm plays Orin, the abusive dentist boyfriend of Audrey, playing the part of dastardly villain with much relish.

In the lead role, freshman Gregory Cuellar plays Seymour and, in his first year as a theater student at SLU, does a great job creating a fully realized character. Cuellar brings the audience into the world of fame and romance that Seymour wants so much and, in a funny and skilled turn, makes the audience understand the steps he takes throughout the course of the show.

The real marvel of the show, however, is the show’s strangest cast member, Audrey II, a giant puppet of the monstrous plant operated from inside by junior Justin Leibrecht. It must be hot in the costume, but it is well worth the trouble for an audience.

“Little Shop of Horrors” is currently continuing on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. in Xavier Hall.

For more information about SLU Theatre visit www.slu.edu/theatre.