Christian Montgomery // Photo: Cameron Whitman Photography

Constellation’s Little Shop of Horrors Plays the Hits

Once again, Constellation Theatre Company has demonstrated their mastery of smash hit musicals during the opening of its 2019-20 Season, dubbed Free Your Passion, with the cult classic musical Little Shop of Horrors, directed by Nick Martin. 

Drifting very little from the Hollywood blockbuster hit, Martin’s plays the hits, making this intimate production a grand experience. 

Down on Skid Row, theatergoers will greatly appreciate the sublime performance of Christian Montgomery, as he leads the all-star cast as famed Seymour Krelborn. Keeping true with the quirky humdrum persona that is Seymour, Montgomery offers a brilliant comedic touch eliciting infectious laughter throughout the two-hour performance. 

Surpassing Montgomery’s timely quips and clumsy faux pas is his versatile vocal repertoire. His effortless delivery of numbers “Grow for Me” and “Suddenly, Seymour” will leave viewers desiring more. 

Montgomery is not a lone powerhouse vocalist in this ensemble, including the simply delightful Teresa Quigley Danskey, who dazzles as a redheaded version of Audrey, climbing to lofty vocal heights prompting chills. Though she strays from the intentionally dimwitted Audrey from the film, she delivers on the vulnerable damsel in distress quality, essential for the character.

Then there are the “doo-wop girls” Chiffon, Crystal and Ronnette, played by Selena Clyne-Galindo, Chani Wereley and Alana S. Thomas. With these ladies, it’s all in the details. Their well-balanced harmonies, subtle glances and laughable appearances in the background elevate this production. In addition, their eye-catching, exquisitely executed threads fashioned by costume designer Frank Labovitz helped this trio earn applause at each score’s end. 

In the story, as in real life, the true attraction is the insidious beautifully exotic Audrey II, perfectly voiced by Marty Austin Lamar. Designed by MattaMagical, and motioned by puppeteer Rj Pavel, Audrey II draws onlookers’ attention with each scene, as it steadily grows presenting vibrant hues of green and purple, rousing echoes of awe and jaw dropping expressions. 

Even the thick New York accents are a simplistic layer enhancing this production’s virtue.  

Though rare moments occur where one can see a pair of green legs behind the dancing potted plants (which could be remedied by an added layer of leaves early on), the designs within this production do not disappoint. From the apparent grimy concrete jungle to the bare flower shop, set designer A.J. Guban and props designer Alexander Rothchild’s produce a setting that transports audiences to an authentic 1960’s Skid Row. 

I must not forget to mention the “Steve Martin-like” Orin performance by Scott Ward Abernethy. Completely derived from the film, Abernethy takes very little risks in personifying the sleazy dentist who abuses Audrey throughout the play. While you will loath him consistently with every appearance, his death by laughing gas scene will leave you ill from giggles, perfectly ending the first act with a climatic punch. 

All in all, Constellation’s Little Shop of Horrors boils over with talent and grit, capturing the uncomfortable truth of domestic violence, with a beyond enjoyable musical extravaganza. 

Little Shop of Horrors is showing at Source now through November 17. Information and tickets are $19-$55 are available here.

CulturalDC’s Source Theatre: 1835 14th St. NW, DC; 202-204-7800; www.culturaldc.org

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Langford Wiggins

Langford Wiggins is the CEO and founder of LANCAR Ink, a nonprofit news outlet that produces and distributes distinctly diverse multimedia content created by multicultural entry-level and matriculating journalists to news outlets, showcasing the impact of charitable initiatives, programs, and services aiding a plethora of communities. His personal multimedia works have appeared in five different languages and five countries on Voice of America and TheRoot.com.