A spring musical should be joyous, funny and upbeat. Last year, Baldwin High School offered the Maui premiere of "Hairspray," which was extremely entertaining. Its follow-up this season is "Little Shop of Horrors," which will run for two more weekends, and although it is a smaller show and a little less lavish, it is very funny and enjoyable.
A big "Little Shop" highlight is the doo-wop girls, both in character work and vocals. Ronnette (Jordyn Clarke), Chiffon (Ashley Ramos) and Crystal (Nomi Macadangdang) give the production that extra energy needed to tie the ridiculously campy tale together. The chorus, made up of Lana Canton, Alohi Johnson, Hannah Lewis, Haylie Daunhauer and Shaina Diego give large-scale numbers the vocal muscle needed to kick start the show with "Skid Row/Downtown."
Anchoring Linda Carnevale's production was the polished performance of TJ Idemoto as Seymour. Idemoto nails the role in his scene work and shines on "Grow For Me," "Suddenly Seymour," and particularly with his solo in "The Meek Shall Inherit."
Baldwin High School performers sing about getting off of Skid Row during a performance of “Little Shop of Horrors,” showing through April 21 at the school’s Loudon Mini-Theatre.
Baldwin High School Theatre photo
Makana Gabin as Mr. Mushnik was also notable in a role that is often overlooked. Previously seen as Maurice in "Beauty and the Beast," his growth as a performer and singer is quite noticeable. One of the finest numbers of the entire production is "Mushnik and Son." The less-than-recognizable number stood out because of two fine performances.
Most of the music works well in "Little Shop," which I can only assume is a result of the work of musical director Tana Larson and vocal coach Gary Shin-Leavitt (who provides the vocals for Audrey II, the talking plant). Not to be overlooked is the wonderful orchestra. Though hidden backstage, conductor and bassist Stephen Rodrigues leads a band of alumni and students that includes Richard Tadaki (guitar), student Alexander Underwood (flute), Cody Sarmiento (trumpet), student Reid Ishikawa (piano), student Keokoa Mahi (saxophone), and Lahainaluna High School student Arvin Velasco (drums).
Orin, the creepy dentist, is not an easy role to play and requires a great deal of extreme characterization. Jay Agasid gives a praiseworthy performance, especially in his scene work. Lorena Abreu, as Audrey, the female lead, is charming. Her comical, dumb blonde with big hair and a city accent to boot was a delight to watch. Like Agasid, her forte appears to be scene work, yet she tackles her songs in full volume and with chutzpah.
The Audrey II designer, Daniel Vicars and the student crew of puppeteers, provide the final element to not only allow "Little Shop of Horrors" to work well, but also steal a few scenes. The intimacy and up-close experience of "Little Shop" makes this show one of the most enjoyable high school productions of the year.
* Baldwin's "Little Shop of Horrors," with music by Alan Menken, book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, based on the Roger Corman film, and directed by Linda Carnevale continues through April 21. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 5 p.m. Sunday with additional 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday and 20 at the Loudon Mini-Theatre in back of the Baldwin High School campus. There will be no 7:30 p.m. performance on Saturday, April 20. Tickets are $12 for adults, $9 for seniors and $7 students (17 and younger), available at the door one hour prior to show time. There are no reservations and seating is limited to 125 people.