A New Company, Loxen, Bows Little Shop Of Horrors In Miami

Corey Vega as Seymour tries to reason with Audrey II in Loxen Productions’ Little Shop of Horrors

By Oline H. Cogdill

It’s always commendable to have new theaters with emerging talent start in South Florida, especially when the goal is to feature local performers. Loxen Productions shows much potential with its fourth production the ever popular and much mounted musical Little Shop of Horrors, performed in its permanent home, the beautiful ARTime Theater in Miami.

Little Shop of Horrors has become a go-to musical across the country and in South Florida where it has been presented at least six times in the past decade, the latest of which was last October by Slow Burn Theatre Company. And there is good reason for that. Little Shop of Horrors is a delightful, fun musical that skewers Grade-D horror movies with a doo-wop and rock ‘n’ beat. Composer Alan Menken and lyricist-bookwriter Howard Ashman based the 1982 musical on the 1960 low-budget black-and-white film by Roger Corman.

Little Shop of Horrors revolves around nebbish Seymour Krelborn, who works as a clerk at a barely surviving skid road flower shop owned by Mr. Mushnik. Seymour knows he has little future, probably destined to work at the shop until it’s shuttered, which could be any day. Nor does he believe he could ever get the girl he pines for—his co-worker the ditzy Audrey who’s dating the “semi-sadist” dentist Orin Scrivello, who gives that noble profession a black eye. Literally.

Seymour’s life changes when he finds an exotic, unknown Venus flytrap-like plant that he names Audrey II. The unusual plant draws in the customers; Mushnik’s business thrives and Seymour becomes famous and has a chance with the original Audrey as Audrey II grows and grows, thanks to the special food Seymour provides. Audrey II needs fresh human blood. But after a while Seymour’s drops of blood aren’t enough. Audrey II needs human sacrifice.

Loxen’s Little Shop of Horrors generally needs a little more work to be the production it wants, especially its lighting. But it was able to overcome problems that threated to derail it on the day this critic saw the production. Corey Vega, who was to play Seymour, was ill; neither his understudy nor the next in line able to take over the part. Instead, Seymour was ably played by Benjamin Leon IV, CEO and founder of Loxen Productions. In situations like this, the substitute actor often plays the part with script in hand, not having the time to learn the lines. Not Leon. He hit the stage running, completely into the role, with a strong voice and fully engaged as Seymour.

Frank Montoto has some nice turns as the vile Orin as does veteran actor Craig Dearr as Mushnik. Chantal Bonitoto as Audrey has real chemistry with Leon in their standout number “Suddenly Seymour.”

Audrey II often steals the show with Mikhael Mendoza as her voice and Justin Rodriguez on manipulation duty. It’s interesting that to get more locals involved, Loxen filled the stage with several background actors walk-ons as passers-by and street people.

Loxen is a young company that is quite earnest in its ambitions but needs more seasoning and finesse in its choreography.

Loxen is sponsoring its first contest for new playwrights. Deadline is May 1; visit loxenproductions.com/ for details.

A word about the ARTime Theater. This is a lovely facility originally used as a church in 1921. The City of Miami purchased it in 1975. It was renamed in 1982 to honor Dr. Manuel Artime, a poet and historical figure. It was recently renovated as a theater. Parking is behind the theater.

Little Shop of Horrors runs through April 16 at the ARTime Theater, 900 SW First St., Miami. Performances are 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets begin at $35. Visit www.loxenproductions.com for more information.


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