Review: 'Little Shop' a great, big hit

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By Kelly LeVan

Whether you love the movie or have never even heard of Rick Moranis, the Olions’ production of “Little Shop of Horrors” will have you laughing the antics, caring about the characters and applauding wildly, standing in front of your Duane W. Smith seat.

I enjoyed so many elements of the musical I almost don’t know where to begin. But, since it is “Little Shop of Horrors,” I’ll start with the plant.

The plant is awesome.

The Olions, under the direction of Nina Saunders, did an excellent job not only in making an inanimate prop grow bigger several times during the show but in bringing out its true nature – which isn’t inanimate at all. In its infancy, the plant – named Audrey Two – wriggles alarmingly. But at full maturity, the plant wails, it manipulates, it murders and, beautifully, it sings.

Amanda Jalbert, playing Audrey Two, has a strong, resonant, bluesy voice you just don’t expect from a high school student, let alone one confined inside a huge, man-eating plant.

Bethany Sullivan offers another really stunning performance. I know Sullivan from her performances with New Mexico Dance Theater, but  she completely transforms herself for her role as Audrey. I hardly recognized her because her posture, mannerisms, facial expressions, voice, everything about her belonged solely  to her character. What a great actress!

Craig Mortensen played opposite Sullivan as Seymour, the nice-guy nerd who gets the girl – although unfortunately, Audrey Two cuts them off before the happily-ever-after. Mortensen sings wonderfully, and gives Seymour a lot of depth, moving seamlessly from geek-in-love to hesitant-dentist-killer to, finally, a man who does what he has to do.

Tonio Anderson as Mr. Mushnik and Ethan Kellogg as Orin both did a fantastic job bringing out the comedy in their roles. They are hilarious.

The dancers also deserve heaps of praise: Natasha Roberts, Arica Baughman, Ashley Lopez, Acasia Tucker, Yasmeen Lookman and Sami Vish add so much to every scene. They give life to the punked-out skid-row setting, lounging on stoops and giving everyone who comes through the neighborhood a piece of their collective mind. The choreography, by Roberts and Sullivan, perfectly matches every song.

I saw the show opening night, Thursday, and there were still a few sound problems to get worked out. But that being said, all members of the Los Alamos High School Olions Thespian Club – director, stage managers, actors, set and costume designers, tech and moving crews, and all those involved whom I have no space to mention – should feel proud of this show.

And all members of the public should attend. After a whopping five shows last weekend, there’s only one left: at 7 p.m. Saturday at Duane W. Smith Auditorium. Admission is $12 or $7 for students/seniors.