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Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011

'Little Shop of Horrors' Keeps Shining at Marquette

Review

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The enduring appeal of Little Shop of Horrors is a testament to the fact that popular taste can develop an appetite for deliciously offbeat aesthetics. After all, a musical comedy about a large, sentient plant that feeds on human blood doesn't seem like something that would've survived even its first run.

The show continues to sparkle in Marquette University's season-opening production. Directed by Ray Jivoff, the fluid, enjoyable musical features some impressive performances.

Tim Braun plays meek protagonist Seymour with everyman awkwardness that occasionally shatters in very decisive moments. Alexandra Bonesho delivers a strong performance as love interest Audrey. The role challenges an actress to balance cheap comedy with genuine emotion. While there are a few shaky moments for Bonesho, overall she strikes that balance. Her tender emotional side is so compelling that she makes it easy to forget how silly the rest of the plot was designed to be.

Other notable performances include a promising turn by freshman Armando Ronconi and biology student Craig Fischer. Though not perfectly polished, Ronconi's comic personality shows plenty of potential in the role of Audrey's sadistic dentist boyfriend. As the voice of the plant, Fischer delivers deep soul with one of the most powerful vocals in the production. The puppets of the plant are much more expressive in its smaller, earlier stages than when it grows to dominate the set, but all are vivid creations.

Marquette University's production of Little Shop of Horrors runs through Oct. 9 at the Helfaer Theatre. For ticket reservations, call 414-288-7504.