Art and Audrey: Local Theatre Offerings
“Little Shop of Horrors”
El Reno Community Theatre, 110 S Bickford Ave, El Reno
October 2-12, 8:00 p.m. F/S and 2:00 Sundays
Nothing so clearly illustrates the artistry of technical theatre as the earnest efforts of community theatre. With solid direction and competent performances, El Reno Community Theatre presents “Little Shop of Horrors” in the Center Theatre in downtown El Reno.
Ably directed by JD Bergner, with book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken, the show is a musical version of the Faust legend in a Brooklyn florist shop. The cast has a range of abilities, and the overall production is fun and engaging. The leads are well cast, with strong voices and good stage presence.
Seymour Krelborn (played by Cody Hassell) is a hapless, clumsy flower shop assistant who finds and tends a bizarre plant he names after Audrey (Jordan Schroder), the girl of his dreams, who is in an abusive relationship with a skid row dentist (Guy HIckerson, who plays several roles). Seymour discovers that Audrey II (voiced by AJ Isbill, puppetry by Doug Richardson) thrives on blood; Seymour eventually makes a deal with the plant that distorts his own view of himself. But in return, he gets fame, fortune, respect, and a better relationship with Audrey. And then things go wrong, of course.
Supporting cast members provide a variety of background roles, and all of the voices are very good. The company is to be particularly congratulated for casting people who look like real people in a production about the temptations that face real people.
Music direction was by Michelle Lloyd, who also provided the accompaniment for the performance. Set design and colors were used very effectively; this is due to the design skills and leadership of Bergner, who is making his main stage directing debut. The production suffers somewhat from technical problems created by an older theatre designed for film, by a complex and somewhat quirky sound system, and most likely by a limited budget. That said, the show is fun, well played, with strong voices in all the right places. The significant technical effects are impressive, and any minor glitches may be overlooked by an engaged audience.
"Little Shop of Horrors" is about 2 hours with a 15 minute intermission and concessions in the lobby. Tickets are available at the door or reserve by email at email@example.com with the number of tickets you want and the date you wish to attend.
Red Dirt Theatre Company, 30 N. 52nd Street, OKC
October 3-11, F/S 8:00
“Art” by Yasmina Reza (translated by Christopher Hampton) is a play about friendships and how they are affected by time and change and personality. Tom Powers has directed three talented and competent performers in beautiful gem of a piece.
The story, which has elements of absurdism, revolves around a painting purchased as high art by Serge (played by Starr Hardgrove) and seen as ridiculous by his friend Marc (Ian Clarke). Both try to get support from Yvan (Nicholas Toscani), who is not really interested but tries to please them both. The silliness of the lengths that good friends will go to is revealed as all three try to validate themselves and their opinions while relying on the good will of the others—not always correctly.
Hardgrove’s serious, pompous Serge was beautifully matched by Clarke’s sarcastic, pompous Marc. Toscani provided the erratic and energetic element that kept the pot boiling. The play's effectiveness is in the language, and the clarity and delivery of each actor was key to making the piece live. The subtle and dry humor of French theatre was delightfully rendered by this ensemble cast.
“Art” has the appearance of a low tech show; Red Dirt’s production team certainly kept the audience from being aware of or distracted by any technical issues. The clean, dark unit set was specifically re-dressed to serve as different apartments, and the simple, focused lighting effectively drew focus as needed. The entire production mirrored the play’s inner argument that simplicity can still be art. Or not.
"Art" is 80 minutes without intermission. Tickets at the door or by email at RedDirtTheatre@gmail.com.