Saturday, April 28, 2012

Big Plant Little Stage

Little Shop with Carte Blanche

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Carte Blanche Studios' tiny space has been home to quite a few musicals since it opened. The intimacy of the tiny studio theatre space has the effect of amplifying the real emotions of musical theatre in often unexpected ways. In the case of Carte Blanche's Little Shop of Horrors, that means really, really good things for the romance at the heart of the story. 

 

Adrian F. Feliciano is charmingly meek as a botanist named Seymour working at a flow shop on Skid Row. In Carte Blanche's cozy space we vividly feel Seymour's emotions as he longs for his beautiful co-worker Audrey who is played with heartfelt emotion by Emily Craig. The emotions between the two of them animate the center of the story quite well with Audrey's undesired romance with a sadistic dentist providing palpable physical and emotional tension. Michael Traynor is chillingly dark in the role, towering over Feliciano and nearly everyone else onstage aside from the plant Audrey II as it comes to dominate the tiny stage. 

 

The man-eating plant puppets were originally used in the Skylight's production of the musical some time ago. Originally intended for a larger set, the comical end of the plant's growth is accentuated here. In its final stage, actors are climbing around the plant just to talk to each other. Of course, with the audience this close to the action, the little imperfections can feel very, very big. As the musical is about the very nature of human imperfection, the flaws in the production feel as natural as sadness on Skid Row.  This extends to the music, which is reigned-in by a particularly talented band when it falters. 

 

Carte Blanche Studios' production of Little Shop of Horrors runs through May 6th on 1024 South 5th Street. For ticket reservations, call 414-688-7313.

 

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