Whoever would have pegged a man-eating plant as a theater warhorse? Little Shop of Horrors has been charming audiences for decades in various guises, beginning with the original 1960 Roger Corman film, The Little Shop of Horrors. How the "the" got lost in the translation to the 1982 musical, who knows? But the comedy has grown into a legend.
You know the story. Boy meets girl. Boy meets plant. Trouble ensues. Humanity ends. Book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, music by Alan Menken.
Little Lake Theatre Co.'s production, directed by Art DeConciliis, is occasionally wobbly, with uneven sound quality. But this is quibbling about an enjoyable evening of fluff and tunes. And, most memorably, Laura Barletta. She does not merely portray the ditsy flower-shop assistant. She is Audrey. Perhaps she was genetically engineered? Cross-bred like an exotic plant herself? (OK, give credit to DeConciliis and costume-designer Carol Lauck for helping Barletta, who's also — no surprise — the show's choreographer, create the perfect Audrey).
Keeping pace with Barletta are Nick Bell as the nebbish Seymour and the body (Kevin Hinnebusch) and mesmerizingly bluesy voice (E. Skip Napier) of Audrey II. Joey Frollo stretches in two roles, better as a trendezoid promoter than the hard-to-hear sadistic dentist. Courtney Harkins, Haley Koontz Donohue and Joyce Hinnebusch sound fine as the backup singers, but are a bit jarring when jiving (i.e., white actors playing black characters). Completing the cast are Thomas Kurt Fuchel Sr. as the florist Mushnik, and Anna Gergerich and Jeff Johnston in a variety of roles.
Musical director Brian Buckley leads the satisfying accompanists Andrew Gala, Justin Winslow and Rob Fitchett (the latter also the company's managing director). The production staff has done another good job: resident designer Martha Bell, properties manager Leigh Ann Frohnapfel, technical director Michael Hornak and stage manager Sydney Dydiw.
Have fun. See Audrey.