ROSE BOWL ADJUDICATION for Little Shop of Horrors 2017
Name of Company: FAILAND DRAMA CIRCLE
Name Of Production: ‘LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS’
Venue: Failand Village Hall
Date: Thursday’ 30 November 2017
Adjudicator: Barbara Smith
DESIGN – The Venue has a small stage and it is not easy to stage a fairly large cast Musical, but the area was successfully extended by a wide forestage which enabled more scope for performance. Pros arch flats SR and SL presented as brick walls and two dustbins SR and boxes SL represented Skid Row, and Mushnik’s dingy Florist Shop in the inner stage area. A fine shop entrance USR from alley in the street and cyc at back and SR a passage, and the actual shop was fitted with counter and display dresser for flowers and florist items, and a small non-functional window at the rear. Good use of the restrictive stage area had been effected and the Florist Shop and Skid Row area well projected. The change to outside of the shop and Skid Row was effective with turning the shop around, and again this projected a fine visual appearance and atmosphere allowing a larger area for group and movement performance. Orin Dental Surgery presented with black flats and side flats covered with white tiles and of course a dominant dentist’s chair.
As in Director’s Notes, not an easy task with size of stage and restrictive resources to stage this Musical, but the Set Design rose to the challenge and a good Set and a fine atmosphere was successfully projected.
STAGE MANAGEMENT – The Stage Crew had a very difficult task in manipulating the Scene changes with constantly turning the Set around on the small stage. Yes, some set changes were clumsy and noisy and not always slickly managed and I fully appreciate the massive problem, but perhaps if it were possible a slicker set change could have been managed with more rehearsal. A pity stage crew were not all in Blacks.
It was a further challenge to get the Ensemble on and off stage and this was well managed on the small stage. Lighting and Sound cues well prompted.
SET & PROPS – The Set was well constructed and painted and set a good atmosphere for the downtown Skid Row and the Mushnik Shop. I think the addition of some steps SR or SL would have given some further level of interest and making a fine area for the Ronnettes to observe the action rather than just the Box SL, and in addition I felt more rubbish could have been around the rather clean garbage bins.
Props were again good and of course the Hire of Audrey II. There could have been some more obvious wilted flowers and particularly the Roses Audrey first attempts to gather up and a fine period transistor radio. Good use of gauze in ‘Somewhere That’s Green’. Fine Orin ‘body parts’ fed to Audrey II. I appreciated the trails of leaves in the Shop as it became more successful, and trailed around the Leads at the Finale. Excellent Baby Audrey II plants made by the Company. Good period cash machine and fine dentist chair and mask for Orin scene, and selection of period telephones again as shop is more successful, and good flourishing flowers.
A good and well considered input.
COSTUME, MAKE-UP & WIGS – A fine 1960’s costuming was projected. I greatly appreciated Audrey in her sexy mini outfits always with an animal print, blonde wig and big hooped gold earrings, and later a minute apron with cute pockets. Seymour perfectly Nerdish with glasses, tight sleeveless cardigan and cords and later in Bow Tie and smart Pullover and trousers. On becoming wealthy Mushnik sported a very fine light coloured suit, bow tie and smart waistcoat. Orin looked excellent in his black leather Jacket and Jeans and the super motive on his Dentist outfit. I was impressed with the carefully observed outfits for the Chorus in fine ‘60’ style and also the sexy Dental Nurses. I was not altogether happy with the Ronnettes at first in their very pretty full skirted 80’s outfits complete with frilly underskirts, because they are street urchins and although excellent glamour projected as Skid Row becomes a success, I felt a gradual visual impact and statement was lost. Lovely Chorus in maroon cassocks for ‘Suddenly Seymour’.
Excellent hairstyling and make-up and I admired the detailing with Mrs. Luce French’s pleat hairstyle and Ronnettes’ hairstyling. Make-up for Audrey was perfect with bright red lipstick and the Black Eye. Orin looked suitably pale with good black, period hairstyle. A fine overall input.
DIRECTION – The Direction had successfully co-ordinated all the Technical elements within the context of the Stage and Venue, and integration of book and music was first class. With such a small acting area I did feel that the Chorus was too large and crowded the stage with sometimes awkward grouping. It was not necessary to have four Ronnettes, as individual characterisation was thus lost with the division of dialogue, for instance the dialogue suggests Ronnette is upfront and confrontational and Crystal makes cutting remarks. This uniform character projection meant we lost the factor of a black humour presence of the Urchins, acting as a Greek Chorus commenting on the action. All four sang strongly and well, with projection and harmony, making a fine singing impact and highlighting the trendy ‘60’s musical aspect, but characterisation and meaning for their presence was weakened.
The Support roles again all well characterised and strongly projected. The lead characterisations were all excellent and made a fine impact and the relating between them was first class with very fine cuing and timing of dialogue. Stage business in the Florist Shop was excellent particularly in view of the restrictive area, and the manipulation with Audrey II very well managed and making effective impact.
Pace was slick and brisk throughout and an excellent energy projected and change from dialogue to song effortlessly projected. A strong Direction and obviously very well rehearsed with a fine team spirit.
MUSIC – The combination of Keyboard, Bass, Guitar, and Drums was perfect for the musical backing both with musical sound and suiting the intimate Venue. Fine strong opening and support for ‘Skid Row’ with fine Drumming input. The Keyboard underscoring for both dialogue and scene changing was excellent at all times.
With this Rock musical the changes of rhythm and musical style were well respected from the the ‘Doo –Wop’ of the Ronnettes, the R/B of Audrey II, to the Jewish influence of Mushnik in ‘Mushnick and Son’, and with the good input of Bass and Guitar. Keyboard and soft Drumming in ‘Closed for Renovations’ and a fine build up as Audrey fades away and dies. The Band was excellently modulated and did not overpower the singing but was fully supportive with the backing. The Musical Direction gave a fine input and adding greatly to the success of the production.
SINGING – The quality of the singing both from Soloists and the Chorus was excellent. Fine harmony input from the Ronnettes in the opening and with good attack and diction and the following number with strong input from the Chorus especially the male input, and good solo piece from Seymour. The Chorus was finely modulated, harmonised and with characterisation of the song with a lovely final note.
‘Da-Doo’ from the Ronnettes was well projected in excellent style and harmonies, and ‘Grow For Me’ from Seymour well characterised with feeling of angst and fine holding of notes and a build up to the ‘bleeding’. The following number with Mushnik, Seymour and Ronnettes with strong stylised attack from Mushnik was well timed with appropriate gestures and there was a good build up at the end of the number. ‘Somewhere That’s Green’ was excellently characterised by Audrey and sung with fine pitching and a beautiful, dreamy expression on her face and ending with a lovely final note. ‘Closed for Renovations’ projected with fine relating and final note well harmonised by the three. Well characterised and projected input from Orin and his manic outbursts and excellent harmony backing from the Dental Nurses. Fine characterised input from Mushnik with phrasing and body language reflecting his Jewish background and rhythm of the backing. Seymour and Audrey II with fine pitch and good holding of notes from Seymour and super voice from Audrey II at first leading and then demanding and finally strong impact with R & B rhythm. Orin and Seymour ‘Now (It’s Just the Gas’) with well stylised input from a ‘high’ Orin and Seymour with an almost ‘Patter Song’ input – all was very effective and again well characterised.
Act 2 and a well time and cued input from Seymour and Audrey in ‘Call Back in the Morning’, and then a nicely rhythmic and well-pitched ‘Suddenly Seymour’ with fine relating, and song building up well and by harmony backing of the Chorus with Ronnettes coming through the audience and all making a strong impact. ‘Suppertime’ from Audrey II was excellent with style and timing and well-pitched interjections. Fine and well characterised input from all with ‘The Meek Shall Inherit’ and singing strongly projected with fine pitch and harmony. ‘Suppertime Reprise’ again with strength and rhythmic projection, and the ‘Finale’ projected with fine diction, and strong musicality.
The Singing input was impressive and added greatly to the success of the Musical.
SOUND – Personal mic’ing was well handled both with levels and cuing and all sound effects well recorded, cued, and operated apart from thunder which stopped suddenly instead of a fade. Good radio recordings and sound was overall effective.
The dance choreography was simple in view of the restrictive acting area but the basic steps were well executed and in fine ‘60’ style. Good Jive hand movements given to Ronnettes in ‘Skid Row’ number, and later a fine Conga routine movement for Mushnik, Semour, and Ronnettes in ‘Don’t It Go to Show’ number. Good background movement routine for Chorus in ‘Closed for Renovations’, and an excellent, energised and manic choreographed input for Orin using the stage very effectively with excellent facial expressions and gestures. Very good and well characterised routine for the sexy Dental Nurses. Fine movement routine for Mushnik and Seymour in the next number with excellent relating and finishing with a good final picture and Mushnik exiting joyfully.
Act 2 and use of the small acting area in the Shop was extremely effective with all the telephone calls. The diagonal grouping for the chorus worked well if rather crowding the stage, which is a problem with large chorus on a small area, but best use made of the area. Entry of Chorus with pots of small Audrey II’s was very good – again in diagonals.
The Ronnettes, always with fine energy and stylised movement routines, again made a good use of the limited area.
Audrey II was excellent with the demanding movements, wilting and reacting, and was extremely well manipulated and made an excellent impact of great vitality within the limits of its ‘being’.
A very basic Rig is available in Failand Village Hall but the best possible use was made of the limited resource, and the addition of a Follow Spot was very effective in highlighting Soloists.
Overall lighting was warm and bright and I appreciated the use of Reds SR and SL as Audrey II became active with demands for blood, and use of dimness and spot on the growing plant. There was an increasing use of Green on Audrey II and although it reflected on characters around it- in the Shop, it did not deflect from the statement but in fact added to Audrey II’s ‘influence’. Good use of Red for Orin ‘Be a Dentist’.
There was one slow cue and operation in Act 2 when we clearly saw the Operator distinctly inside Audrey II and this was apart from the minor incidences when the curtain inside the plant again briefly revealed the Operator which might have been due to the FOH lighting. The simple lighting input was effective within the limits of the Rig.
SEYMOUR KRELBORN – A very good, ‘nerdy’ character was projected from the beginning with both his appearance and also his awkward mannerisms, and his attraction for Audrey obvious with his timidity. His growing attraction and concern with the plant very well played as he becomes anxious for it to thrive – ‘Grow For Me’ piece, and then a fine build up to the discovery that it requires blood. Well played desperation to satisfy Audrey II demands with “Feed Me” with blood from his fingers and a fine distress with the increasing demands. Well played scene with Orin the Dentist’s Surgery and lovely final scene in Act 1 feeding body parts to Audrey II.
In Act 2 his increasing fame and signing contracts but also his increasing frantic trying to feed Audrey II and a fine soliloquy with the Gun and scaring Audrey with his secret intentions. The relating with Audrey was excellent and a very sensitive scene when she is dying played with true melodrama.
A well observed and sustained performance and with good projection of the songs.
AUDREY – This characterisation truly grasped the dumb blonde with low esteem and the ditsy and romantic nature of Audrey with her bleach blonde hair and tacky dress sense. I appreciated the lovely, high-pitched voice which was perfect for the character. The abusive relationship with Orin was excellently projected especially with her “Doctor…I’m sorry…Doctor…Doctor” and with excellent submissive body language. Her relating and growing attraction to Seymour well projected and finally an excellent melodramatic death fading away. This was an excellent performance with fine skills of singing and acting.
VOICE OF AUDREY II – Another excellent input and again with fine singing skills and with a good command of speech rhythm. The increasing demands reached an almost manic level with anger in demands and the pathetic ‘wilting’ a fine contrast. Cuing and timing was spot on. Another fine performance.
AUDREY II PUPPETEER – This performance was again very admirable, particularly as it grew bigger in the limited space and became more active. There was an excellent co-ordination with the Audrey II voice. There was an impressive energy with this Audrey II with the ‘tendril’ waving in keeping with the vocal demands. Yet another fine performance.
THE RONETTES – As previously stated under Direction, I thought it unnecessary and weakening of intent to have four Ronettes, and the splitting of dialogue meant that characterisation and an intention of foreboding comment was lost. Unfortunately I could not define the characters with dialogue input and cannot comment individually. All four Ronettes sang excellently and projected a superb energy and truly reflected the spirit of the ‘60’s.
ORIN SCRIVELLO D.D.R S. – An excellently manic performance was projected from his initial arrogance chewing gum as he entered the Shop, to his anger and
abusive ordering Audrey around. An excellent input in his surgery, wielding his massive industrial drill to his desperate struggle with the mask. A finely energised performance.
MUSHNIK – A good Jewish presence with the phrasing of the dialogue and stylised gestures and body language. A fine delight projected at the increased sales of plants in the Shop and a good singing input into ‘Don’t it go to Show’ with his vocal attack, timing and gestures. Excellent movement and relating with Seymour in ‘Mushnik and Son’, and his suspicion of `Seymour in Act 2 well played with scraping the floor and projecting a sinister attitude towards Seymour. This was a fine characterisation.
DENTAL NURSES – They moved excellently with an impressive energy and projected a very provocative presence. A good input.
BERSTEIN – A fine fast talking Media Man was projected very OTT brandishing his cigar and expansive gestures. A fine cameo role.
MRS. LUCE – I appreciated her visual appearance in fashionable ‘60’s outfit complete with Pill Box Hat and her Pet Dog and she projected privilege and wealth throwing her largess around. Another fine cameo role.
SNIP SNIP – Making impact with his entrepreneurial presence and his Contract.
PATRICK MARTIN – Another opportunist – he perhaps could have been more ‘upfront American’ in presence.
RADIO ANNOUNCER – Fine accent and ‘radio voice’ and an arresting atmosphere created at once.
CHORUS – He gave an excellent and energetic singing input and truly reflected the atmosphere of the 1960’s.
TEAMWORK – Fine teamwork and relating from the entire Cast with fine pace, cuing and timing, and above all strong vocal projection making this a truly enjoyable Production.
Thank you for your kind hospitality and I look forward to being asked again in the near future to another Production from Failand Drama Circle.