Scene at Little Shop of Horrors: Live Live Cinema

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As we walked into Baycourt Theatre one look at the stage gave us a clue that this would be no ordinary performance. The stage looked like someone had emptied a musical instrument store, a retro kitsch store and a workshop onto the stage in large piles. A cord hanging down from a high beam with a bell on the end of it, an angle grinder and a toilet plunger, left us all wondering what they would be used for.

Live-Live Cinema have a unique concept where a silent movie is screened along with a live stage accompaniment of the soundtrack. This is performed on stage by four talented actors who play original music, voice several characters and are also foley artists for all the special sound effects that are required. I am sure they trained for a marathon before the tour. The pace of the show is incredible and I would not recommend going if you have a headache or if you are hard of hearing. You need to be on your game to keep up with the black and white movie on the screen and all the sounds and movements on stage by the actors.

Roger Corman’s 1960’s black and white film, Little Shop of Horrors, was a farcical black comedy made in a couple of days by Corman as he used a film set that was going to be demolished. The story is of the hapless Seymour who works in a florist shop with naive Audrey and their boss, Mr Mushnik. Seymour brings an unusual plant he has grown to become an attraction at the run down shop. The Jewish humour and the strange characters like Mrs Shiva, a customer who has a supply of dead relatives who need funeral flowers; the flower eating customer, Burson Fouch; evil dentist, Dr Farb; masochistic dental patient, Wilbur Force played in the movie by a young Jack Nicholson; giddy high school girls; a couple of gumshoe detectives; Seymour’s hypochondriac mother with her weird medical advice, and more, make the movie funny anyway.

Put Live-Live Cinema’s spin on the soundtrack to this movie and you have a recipe for success. The original music ties the scenes together and I loved the fact it was played live. Each performer had to voice several characters each as there are nearly twenty characters in the movie. Seymour was perfectly played by Byron Coll and he had to display circus like agility to ring the bell for the florist shop door. The bell was brilliantly manipulated by Hayley Sproull with a pulley system to make it nearly out of reach for Coll. Her voices were great as the breathless Audrey and the haughty, crazily named, Mrs Hortense Fishtwanga, who is from the Society of Silent Flower Observers. Laughton Kora’s musical skills were apparent and he had some great rants and raves as the mean Mr Mushnik. Tom Knowles had the dubious honour of slapping his bare stomach for some sound effects and he played a variety of characters with great comic timing and camp style.

Looking forward to the next show that Live-Live Cinema put on.

Diane Hume-Green. Diane is a regular contributor to ARTbop in her column Scene About Town.  Diane, a member or Tauranga Writers, has a background in fashion, music and design.

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