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TADS did not used to be known for their expertise in musicals, but I think they have just stepped up this element of their portfolio – as this was a very good version of Little Shop, with some extremely good performances.

The set was very suitable for the show, good design and well-built, with excellent lighting effects throughout from Paul Horsler and Mark Williams.  Costumes were all good, and looked fresh.  This all helps to make the production interesting if the look matches the characters!

I’m not very keen on the use of backing tracks, but in this case it worked extremely well, (I’m always happy to be proved wrong!) with the cast integrating their dialogue and songs with the music, plus the sound balance very well-managed by Josh Halsey and Lui Faulkner to accommodate the blend of voices.  There were some really good harmonies from the Girls particularly, Janet Bray, Jenna Kay, Rachael Garside, Michelle Chamberlain and Charlotte Ridley.  A rousing opening number, and excellent links for other parts of the show.

I liked the use of one of my favourite young men, Harry Rodgers, as the Urchin, he was able to use his acting, singing and movement abilities within the character, and show what a cheeky guy he is! – whilst keeping within the confines of the role.

I was very impressed by Leanne White as Audrey, she gave us a great characterisation of the down-trodden girl, who blossoms when she finds love with Seymour, showing equal acting and singing ability.  A great find for TADS, and someone I hope we see more of.  I liked her rendition of Somewhere That’s Green – my comment was ‘green is good’!

Not only did Leanne play Audrey, she also MD’d the show, and brought out excellent musical understanding from the cast.  They were both tuneful and expressive, with some lovely harmonies.

Barry Hyde got the rather dim-witted, studious characterisation of Seymour, and coped well with the musical side, although he could have used a little more light and shade in some places.   I liked his relationship with Audrey, it showed a depth of feeling.  They really went for it in Call Back in the Morning, and it worked well.

I think my stand-out performance was from Steve Loczy as Orin the nasty dentist, who terrorises Audrey, and finally meets his sticky end whilst trapped in his nitrous oxide mask!  A fitting end....!!  Steve gave us an excellent study of Orin – whilst not going too far down the Elvis route, and showed such an improvement on his overall performance, he has really come out of himself and I was impressed on all levels.

I wasn’t too keen on Steve Loczy’s secondary character – although he got the ‘campness’ right, I wasn’t sure that it really worked within the other characters, and somehow wanted him to be very butch, as a total contrast.  But because Orin was so good, I sort of didn’t worry too much about this part!!

David Sachon played Mr Mushnik, the proprietor of the flower shop, who ‘adopts’ Seymour as a way to keep him and his revenue fund!  I liked his portrayal, the essence of a Jewish shop keeper was there, without being too overdone.  

I note that David also had much to do with the refurbishment of Audrey II – it all worked very well and the Operator, Mark Normoyle, almost made it seem human!  Jonathan Alexander, who voiced and sang the part, gave the gruesome Audrey II a real character, and showed a depth of tone in both speech and song.  I was pleased to see the two young men take a bow at the end, as they belong as much to the cast as everyone else.

Luke Howard took a couple of small roles, that were both well-played.  I know this young man is capable of taking on more, and hope that we will see him accomplish bigger and better things in the future.

Other smaller parts were played by Molly Harper and Mark Normoyle, both of whom got the best out of their parts.

Once again I was impressed with how TADS keep upping their game – and the production was very good overall.  Sue Sachon got the most out of her cast and crew, to make this a wholly entertaining evening with some stand-out performances.

TADS Theatre Group


review date 17th May 2013, TADS Theatre, Toddington

Director:  Sue Sachon   MD: Leanne White

Choreographer: James Sygrove


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