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The Villages
Friday, June 9, 2023

Mark Kirschenbaum sings his heart out as Seymour in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’

Mark Kirschenbaum sings his heart out as Seymour, the avenging nerd.
Pinky Bigley turns into Audrey — a red-hot flowering floozy with a Betty Boop voice.

Gary Chubeck tickles his fancy with a wicked turn as a sadistic dentist.

But the real star of the musical mayhem in “Little Shop of Horrors” in Savannah Center is a funky, soulful monster plant named Audrey II.

Pinky Bigley as Audrey and March Kirschenbaum as Seymour get together in Little Shop of Horrors in Savannah Center
Pinky Bigley as Audrey and Mark Kirschenbaum as Seymour get together in “Little Shop of Horrors.”

DJ Hiner supplies the voice while Alan Rosichan is the puppet master for the stage prop that not only chews the scenery, but also the actors.  
The musical is based on the 1960 movie by Roger Corman. It turned into a hit Broadway musical a few decades later, and runs today through Saturday, at 3 and 7 p.m. in Savannah Center.

Bill Krone as Mr Mushnik makes a point
Bill Krone as Mr. Mushnik makes a point.

It is directed by Carol Greenfield and produced by Susan Feinberg for Smash Productions in The Villages.

The stage version of “Little Shop of Horrors” has lost none of its B-movie, drive-in sensibility and that’s what makes it such a divine (monster-movie) comedy.

Seymour and his skid row gal pals have some fun
Seymour and his skid row gal pals have some fun.

At the center of the whole thing is Seymour, a love-struck mixed up kid who turns into a killer. He worships a flower shop co-worker named Audrey. She is in a tempestuous, violent relationship with an abusive dentist.
Seymour finds success with Audrey II, a plant who feasts on human beings and loves blood.
Seymour, sort of invented Audrey II and rises to fame and fortune by playing the lead role in the plant’s hunger games.

Kirschenbaum gives this role comedic and vocal juice. It’s like Jerry Lewis meets Hannibal Lecter, although the plant is the real cannibal.
“For me, this is a dream role,” Kirschenbaum said in an interview before the opening. “I don’t really think of him as a nerd. He’s a nice guy; a hero and a villain.”
 Seymour will do anything to get the real Audrey, played by Bigley. She was last seen on The Villages stage as Maria in “The Sound of Music” – but here morphs into a flirtatious flower shop queen.
Bigley, with blond curls and a high-pitched voice, tempts Seymour until she meets her match with the plant.
The same could be said for Gary Chubeck, who plays the mad dentist. Chubeck thrives in this tortuous role, simmering with mad venom and loving every painful minute of it.
Bill Krone is agitated and conniving as Mr. Mushnik, the owner of the skid row flower shop. Krone’s singing and dancing adds a flavorful zest to the production—as well as to a meal for Audrey II.

Audrey II is a big green hungry plant who needs Seymour to fix meals
Audrey II is a big green hungry plant who needs Seymour to fix meals.

Other cast members include Howard Kirschenbaum – Mark’s father – as well as Bob Petrucelli, Gary Kress, Louie Vassmer and Deb Barkelar.

The female singers called The Street Urchins – also known as the Ronnettes – supply plenty of oldies harmony and songs.

Also, a live band –directed by Mary Ann Rockenbach – enhances the musical numbers throughout the production.  A highlight is “Suddenly Seymour,” teaming Bigley and Kirschenbaum.

Tony Violanti covers arts and music for Villages-News.com. He was inducted into the Buffalo NY Music Hall of Fame as a music journalist.

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