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KATS - Little Shop of Horrors

26th to 29th October 2005.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Fright-night treat

Kennet Amateur Theatrical Society: Little Shop of Horrors, at The Corn Exchange, from Wednesday, October 26 to Saturday, October 29

With Hallowe'en approaching, this was the perfect time for KATS to revive their production of Little Shop of Horrors which attracted a rave review from a fellow critic when it was performed in Thatcham last year.

As with Return to the Forbidden Planet, presented memorably by Newbury Nomads several years ago, this too is based on an old black-and-white film - Roger Gorman's cult B movie classic which gave Jack Nicholson an early break. The addition of songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, who went on to write for Disney, produced a delightful spoof musical full of black humour.

The show relies heavily on its two principals -Seymour, a downtrodden florist's assistant and Audrey, the shopgirl with lousy taste in clothes and boyfriends.

Jon Lovell played the former with an engaging sincerity which immediately gained the sympathy of the audience. Claire Helyer was a revelation as the sweet but vulnerable Audrey, searching for (and ultimately finding) Somewhere that's Green. The professional stage surely beckons.

Andy Pocock seemed to enjoy the role of the sadistic dentist Orin (the leader of the plaque), but the inevitable star of the show was the 'strange and interesting plant' Audrey 2, manipulated skilfully by Robert Cole and voiced with real soul by Dave Vince.

Helpful programme notes provided definitions of the many American references and the band lent solid support although the sound balance was not always in favour of the singers.

One of the drawbacks of this musical for an amateur company, however, is the smallness of the cast. Originally written for 10 performers, KATS understandably found ways of augmenting that number, sacrificing quality for quantity on occasions.

Nevertheless this was a promising debut at The Corn Exchange where the facilities offer greater possibilities than a school hall. It is to be hoped that KATS will pay regular visits in the future.

As a foretaste of Hallowe'en, their version of Little Shop of Horrors was most definitely a treat.