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Arts & Entertainment

A View from the Cliff: RTC opens the “Little Shop of Horrors!”

“Feed me, Seymour, feed me!” demands Audrey II, the man-eating, skid row plant. What’s a flower shop to do? Business has gone to seed and is getting worse. Luckily, the Rockaway Theatre Company can nip it in the bud. Its version of the sci-fi musical “Little Shop of Horrors” is as fresh as a daisy.

Originally a 1960s “B” movie, this spoof of fright flicks has blossomed into a modern grass roots favorite. Directors Susan Corning and John Gilleece and Producer Susan Jasper don’t beat around the bush with their troupe’s crisp, clever revelation of this monstrous flower’s sinister plot.

As the story begins, we meet a stunning singing trio. They are a modern Greek chorus narrating the story from start to finish. Affectionately satirizing girl rock groups of the ‘60s, they are aptly named Crystal (Renee Steadman), Chiffon (Tenna Torres) and Ronette (Janicke Steadman-Charles). Their numerous costume changes from evening gowns to jeans (Kerry O’Connor, costumier extraordinaire) enhance their 1960s attitude. They sing and sway to Jeffrey Arzberger’s musical direction and Gabrielle Mangano’s choreography.

Lovable loser Seymour (Donald Gormanly) hits all the right notes as he whines about, and ultimately wins the heart of blonde bombshell Audrey (Reanna Flemons). Both Gormanly and Flemons are outstanding. Though their roles are certainly unconventional, their stage presence is as strong as any leading man and leading lady.

Poor Mr. Mushnik (Fred Grieco) has a flowerpot full of trouble. He faces sudden wealth and sudden disaster unless hungry Audrey II stops growing.

Yes, this house-sized plant is a real man-eater. But no one has us shaking like a leaf as badly as sadistic motorcycling druggie dentist “Orin, DDS”. He is played to nefarious perfection by local favorite John Panepinto. Supporting players James Dalid and Courtney Canello complete the cast.

Of course, the pernicious plant is only make-believe. Its voice and movements are wonderfully manipulated by Kyle Benoit-Cartier, Andrew Guzman and Steven Wagner. Bravo!  The Broadway-caliber sets and lighting are designed, constructed and coordinated by a dozen talented RTC experts too numerous to name individually.

For information on this must-see performance and for future projects, call 718-374-6400; surf to www.rockawaytheatrecompany.org or like RTC on Facebook.  As always, save me a seat on the aisle.

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