Devon Theater’s “Little Shop of Horrors” delights

The fire alarm inadvertently rang out twice Friday night at the Devon Theater. But, aside from a grumble or two, the small cast performing the bright and wild musical comedy Little Shop of Horrors couldn’t shake a small but engaged audience at the run’s first weekend performance.

Little Shop, which runs at the Devon until Sunday Sept. 27, is the quirky tale of a melancholy floral assistant who turns celebrity after he discovers a manipulative, carnivorous, R&B-singing plant. The show, famed for witty banter and an impressive score, is set in a rough urban neighborhood called Skid Row.

The Devon’s artistic director, Michael Pickering, puts together a vibrant and fast-moving performance, backed by a strong-singing cast. It’s a classic show done well and surely to please the families and seniors who are fueling this, the Devon’s inaugural season, after a massive renovation and rebirth under the ownership and support of the Mayfair CDC.

If you go:

Little Shop of Horrors Sept. 10-27

One night after the show’s Devon premiere — warmly received by Inquirer theatre critic Howie Shapiro — the Mayfair theater’s rogue fire alarm sent the roughly 100 attendees into the dreary night before the show even began. Fifteen minutes later, the crowd was back inside, but later during the tail end of the second act, an embrace by the show’s two main characters — that hapless floral assistant Seymour, played by Michael Indeglio, and his romantic co-star Audrey, played by Jordi Wallen — was interrupted by another alarm.

Before being sent outside in the rain again, the alarm was turned off and the show began again in mid-dialogue, welcomed by two rounds of applause thanking the actors for their professionalism.

While the first false alarm seemed to irk some in the audience, the second, though coming in the midst of the show, seemed less disruptive. Deep into the second act, Pickering’s cast already more than won over the audience, surely helped by the appearance of the wildly impressive 7-foot-tall, 45-square foot plant puppet that will dazzle kids and adults alike.

On top of an easy-to-love show and a solid cast, Pickering fills the show with the type of old theater tricks that give the Devon the authenticity of professional theater in the Northeast, often his rallying cry.

Audrey (Jordi Wallen) proudly displays the scientific discovery of Seymour (Michael Indeglio), as a suspicious Mr. Mushnik (Bill Arthur) looks on. PHOTO CREDIT: Kimberly Reilly
(Audrey (Jordi Wallen) proudly displays the scientific discovery of Seymour (Michael Indeglio), as a suspicious Mr. Mushnik (Bill Arthur) looks on. PHOTO CREDIT: Kimberly Reilly)

The on-stage cast of 9 has many ties to the Philadelphia region, though the Devon is a professional, equity-theater and held casting calls both here and and New York City. Only one is from the Northeast, though.

Bill Arthur, who plays Mr. Mushnik, the main character’s boss, is a Mayfair native and owns manages the Ashburner Inn in Holmesburg. Indeglio, who plays the main character Seymour, is from King of Prussia.

The Little Shop show has a long history in entertaining the masses, from a 1960 film, a long-running off-Broadway spectacle beginning in 1982, a popular movie remake from 1986 and then a Broadway spectacle in 2003.

Below, see the representation of “Skid Row,” the show’s first big song, as it was done in that 1986 film version, which featured Rick Moranis as Seymour and Steve Martin.

So are you going to see Little Shop of Horrors at the Devon? Have you already? How did you like it?

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