Little Shop of Horrors at Unity College

FEED ME!: The Cast of 'Little Shop of Horrors' at Unity College in Burnley
FEED ME!: The Cast of 'Little Shop of Horrors' at Unity College in Burnley
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I MAY be steering clear of florists’ shops for the next week or so after two hours of black comedy on Wednesday evening.

“Little Shop of Horrors” opened for business at Unity College and proved a wonderful showcase for the high school students to show off their talents.

This is one of those shows that is gleefully gruesome. The tale of Audrey 11, the caricature-like man-eating plant that brings fame to a down town skid row florist’s shop in 60s America, but has sinister ambitions to take over the world and thrives on human blood.

And the Unity students, showing off the fantastic drama studio in their new “super school”, certainly did her story justice. She is on par with the triffids on the fright scale - thanks to the booming, blood-curdling voice of Cole McLaren-Bailey and the puppeteering skills of his fellow student Matthew Nuttall who between them brought the plant frighteningly to life.

The audience loved it, the students obviously enjoyed presenting it and director Philip J. Hindle should be proud that such a difficult production to put together should be such a resounding success.

The programme notes said there had been snags along the way and there is a debate rumbling on about the level of quality that school productions should aspire to be. But Unity’s philosophy is “be the best that you can be” and work with “unity, passion and respect”.

Judging by this performance, when there were a few small sound hiccups but nothing that affected the quality of the show, the whole cast, production team and everyone involved, certainly rose to the challenge to be the best that they could be.

The story is very much a black comedy - with such weird characters as the frighteningly funny big scary plant Audrey 11 and the sadistic dentist played wonderfully over the top by Mathew Robinson until he gets his comeuppance and Audrey 11 gets a hearty dinner!

Then there is the geeky shop assistant Seymour who nurtures Audrey 11 until he realises the horror he has wrought with his blood-loving plant. Seymour is played with great character by Jack Herbert, who grows in maturity with each production I see him in; and there was a shining performance from Brandon Incles who was hilarious as florist shop owner Mushnik.

Sophie Dand captured the role of the sweet, vulnerable dumb blonde Audrey Fulquard perfectly and the three girls who gave a running commentary through song and dance, Georgia Salkeld, Yasmin Roberts and Alice Butterfield, were all terrific.

Even the “minor” parts were excellent - and without their input the show would not have been the triumph it was.

The young cast showed such maturity, their dancing and singing was spot on and the set was incredible. It was very very impressive and tribute to the hours of hard work that had obviously gone into it.

Music was provided by the Skid Row Five - John Smith (piano), Doug Bugden (keyboard), producer Dave Warren (bass), Scott Knowles (guitar) and Joanne Wilson (drums) who were on stage throughout - but just in the background of the seedy skid row set so were not intrusive. From the moment the narrator (Philip J. Hindle) opens the show “in a voice not unlike God’s” you suspect this is going to be a show to remember - and it is.

Call 683010 for ticket details.

• Unity College, “Little Shop Of Horrors”, tonight.

• Sion Panto Society, “Little Red Riding Hood”, Sion Baptist Church Hall, February 22nd - 26th.

• Pendle Hippodrome Youth Theatre, “The Likes Of Us”, Pendle Hippodrome, February 23rd - 26th.

• Pendle Borderline Theatre Co, “Playhouse Creatures”, Colne Muni, March 9th - 12th.

• The Garrick, “An Inspector Calls”, Ace Centre, Nelson, March 23rd - 26th.

• Rossendale Players, “The Day After The Fair”, Millennium Theatre, March 26th - April 2nd.

• Pendle Hippodrome Theatre Co., “The Producers”, Pendle Hippodrome, March 29th - April 2nd.

• Greenbrook Operatic Society, “The Card”, Greenbrook Community Hall, May 2nd - 7th.

• Rossendale Players, “Dangerous Obsession”, Millennium Theatre, May 21st - 28th.

• Pendle Borderline Theatre Co, “The Right Thing”, Colne Muni, May 25th - 28th.