Fort Salem’s Latest Production No Shop of Horrors!

“Little Shop of Horrors” has become a perennial favorite of community theaters and small professional companies around the country. It is almost always a crowd-pleaser with its memorable music and the iconic Audrey II man-eating plant. Fort Salem’s production is no disappointment. The venerable company has launched its 50th anniversary with a certified hit on its hands. 

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The classic tale of a down in the dumps florist shop languishing in the filth and degradation of Skid Row, about to close its doors due to no business suddenly is thrust in the spotlight when Mushnik Florist Shop resident nebbish clerk, Seymour Krelborn has stumbled upon a rare and heretofore unknown variety of a plant, that he has named the Audrey II named for his secret crush, the shop’s salesgirl, Audrey.  Audrey places the plant in the store window where it can be seen from the street and it begins to attract the attention of passersby. The attention on the street leads ultimately to the attention of the press, the public and ends in fame and fortune for Seymour and the shop as long as he continues to feed the plant.

The Howard  Ashman Alan Menken show includes many hit songs including “Suddenly Seymour”, “Dentist” and “Skid Row”.

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Francesco Carlo Archina as Seymour brings the perfect amount of nerd, pathos and greed to the role. His voice is strong, his stage presence moves from almost lost on the set to moving to the forefront and grabbing the spotlight as his character develops. Dan Costello as Mushnik the shop owner travels a path from frustrated, ready to give up and disillusioned, to see a large bright light at the end of the tunnel in front of him. Samuel Barnes Jaffe does an exemplary job in a number of roles, from the drunk at the show’s opening, stumbling down the theater aisle to Dr. Orin, the semi-sadomasochist dentist out to beat up his girlfriend Audrey on a regular basis. Jaffe does a wonderful job channeling Elvis in the scene-stealing number “Dentist”.

The performance of the night belongs to Iris Rogers whose youth greatly belies her talent as she completely envelops the role of Audrey. Rogers’s strong voice, expressions, and physical presence on the stage perfectly evoke memories of Ellen Greene who rode the role to fame in both the original and stage revivals as well as the movie version. Archina and Roger’s duet, the iconic “Suddenly Seymour” is certainly the highlight of the evening. 

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Director/Choreographer Harry Turpin handles his cast with a deftness of finesse and talent. He has added his own spin on an old chestnut, by making the voice of the man-eating plant, Audrey II a female rather than the traditional bass-voiced plant we have come to expect. Turpin explained he chose that to accentuate the three-way triangle of Seymour and Audrey and Audrey II and a man’s desire for love or greed. An interesting ploy and one that works well. Turpin has many of the actors’ entrances and exits through the audience thus involving them more intimately with the production and actually putting them on Skid Row too.

Alina Jennings, Michaela Torres, and Jedidiah Shortte as the Shakespearean choir in the guise of a fifties R&B girls group bring some delightful moves and harmonies, even if they are terribly overmiked. Anna Threet as the Audrey II puppeteer and Maureen Cossey, again over miked, handle the job of the plant with just the right amount of fun and fright.

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John Norine’s Music Direction and Lighting Design bring the stage to life with his sound and dramatic lighting. The set design by Charles J.I. Krawczyk is an exciting piece of artistry. Moving walls to reveal interiors, returning the stage to a Skid Row complete with drying underwear and rats besides trash cans has totally captured the imagination of what Skid Row must be.

So Fort Salem Theater has begun its 50th year with Executive and Artistic Director Kyle West in his sophomore year at the helm. Little Shop is a wonderful tribute to the longevity of this stalwart theater and the professionalism that comes off their boards.

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Spring is in the air, and Little Shop is very much worth a trip to the country for a few hours of fun laughter and good times. 

“Little Shop of Horrors” plays Friday and Saturday, March 18 & 19 at 7:30, Sunday, March 20 at 2 pm. Ticket prices range from $15 – $36. For more information go to:  or call 518-854-9200.

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