REVIEW: Quirky and Charming, Meadow Brook Theatre’s ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ Gives Audiences Plenty to Root For

The campy noir musical Little Shop of Horrors has invaded Meadow Brook Theatre (MBT) on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester, MI. from now until Oct. 30, 2022.

Confession: I have never watched the movie or attended a live performance before, so this review is about as unvarnished as it comes. Also, I’m glad my first exposure was courtesy of MBT’s talented cast and crew because this production is fantastic!

Little Shop of Horrors is absurdly funny. It shouldn’t work. You shouldn’t find it funny, but it is, and you do. And I now understand why this play is loved by many. In fact, the musical version of Little Shop of Horrors is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The legendary Disney duo of the late Howard Ashman (Book and Lyrics) and Alan Menken (Music) brought the story to life and introduced the world to the weirdest love triangle between a boy, a girl… and a plant.

The setting is a Skid Row flower shop that’s about as dead as the flowers it tries to sell. Perennial MBT favorite Chip DuFord (A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline), is the down-and-out shop owner, Mr. Mushnik. He’s mostly cranky but somewhat lovable in his own way. His assistant Seymour has two passions in his life — botany and Audrey, the blonde bombshell who also works in the store.

Tim Dolan as Seymour in MBT’s production of Little Shop of Horrors. Photo courtesy of Sean Carter Photography

The night I attended, Tim Dolan was slated to play Seymour, but unfortunately, he has been temporarily sidelined by some health issues. What makes the situation even more unlucky is that this has been a dream role for Dolan since he first saw Little Shop of Horrors performed over 20 years ago at MBT. Hopefully, audiences will be able to enjoy his interpretation of the character before the run is over. In the meantime, don’t sleep on his wonderstudy Antonio Vettraino, who was more than up to the task of stepping into Seymour’s shoes on such short notice.

Antonio Vettraino will fill the role of Seymour through opening weekend of MBT’s production of Little Shop of Horrors.

Vettraino is a recent graduate from Oakland University where I had the privilege of watching him hone his skills with the musical theatre department in such productions as The Who’s Tommy and Urinetown. So, it came as no surprise to me that he nailed Seymour’s optimistic nature (“Grow for Me”). Seymour is a-dork-able. This is a guy you root for and Vettraino plays him with such vulnerability and honesty. He reminded me a lot of Jacob Kowalski from the Fantastic Beasts movie franchise. He’s sincere and loyal, and you truly hope he gets everything he desires – especially Audrey. Seymour starts gaining notoriety when he discovers an unusual breed of plant which he names Audrey II (voiced by Tamara Della Anderson with Tyler Boda (A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline) as the puppeteer). Like most protagonists, Seymour starts out with the best intentions to use the plant’s uniqueness to help save the flower shop. He just didn’t count on Audrey II having her own appalling agenda that quickly spirals his life and the lives of those around him out of control.  

L to R: Tim Dolan and Katy Kujala in Little Shop of Horrors at MBT. Photo Courtesy of Sean Carter Photography

Like Seymour, Audrey (Katy Kujala) is a bit naïve when it comes to certain areas of her life. She could easily be dismissed as the stereotypical ditsy dame, but Kujala plays her with a heart of gold (“Somewhere That’s Green”). It becomes obvious she and Seymour are ideal for each other (“Suddenly Seymour”). Even if on the surface they appear to contrast. Naturally, there’s a major obstacle in their path to happily ever after in the form of Audrey’s obnoxious and abusive boyfriend, Orin.

I lost track of how many characters Dan Fenaughty (The IT Girl) played, but he was hilarious as them all. But it was his portrayal of the leather-clad sadist dentist, Orin Scrivello, that was a masterclass in physical comedy. I wanted to hate him and yet I also found him strangely interesting. Did he get what he deserved? He sure did and I’m okay with that (“Now (It’s Just the Gas)”). But when Seymour starts getting what he wants, is the price he pays worth it?

The vocal talent depth of this cast is phenomenal. And it starts with the first song, “Prologue (Little Shop of Horrors)” which was sung with a ‘50s-style flavor by Chiffon (Destyni Williams in her MBT debut), Crystal (Meka King), and Ronnette (Sade Crosby in her MBT debut). In fact, there were numerous songs where King’s strong voice reverberated throughout the theatre and gave me chills. And speaking of powerful voices, Tamara Della Anderson (Audrey II) would give Aretha Franklin a run for her money. She had my full attention from the moment she uttered, ‘Feed me!’ (“Feed Me (Git It)”). Without the audience ever physically seeing her, Anderson made her presence known in an impactful way. Rounding out this exceptionally talented cast is Mary Magyari and Jessica Nichols as residents of Skid Row.

Little Shop of Horrors is a musical filled with juxtapositions of light and dark, sincerity and satire. And it all works. I found myself deeply entranced by this production and I felt the audience around me did too. I highly recommend seeing this show. I also recommend you start keeping a closer eye on your plants. You never know what mischief they get up to when you’re not looking.

Little Shop of Horrors is directed by Travis W. Walter, with choreography by Debbie Williams and musical direction by Zachary Ryan. Brittanie Nicole Sicker is the stage manager, with scenic design by Jen Price Fick, costume design by Karen Kangas-Preston, lighting design by Neil Koivu, and sound design by Mike Duncan. Zachary Ryan also conducts the band and plays the keyboard. The rest of the band includes Stacy White (keyboard 2), Keith Fleetwood (guitar), Greg Platter (bass), and Paul Loos (percussion).

This performance runs approximately two hours with a 15-minute intermission. MBT gives it an audience rating of middle school age and up.

Tickets range from $37 to $46 and are available by calling the Meadow Brook Theatre box office at 248-377-3300 or going online at Student discounts are available at the box office. Groups of eight or more should call 248-370-3316 for group pricing.

A special note: As Covid-19 is a constantly changing situation, MBT will be monitoring and adhering to the guidance given by the CDC, the State of Michigan, the Actor’s Equity Association, and Oakland University. Check the Meadow Brook Theatre website at for the latest information on efforts to keep everyone safe.

About Sarah Hovis

Freelance wordsmith, arts appreciator, grammar geek, sports spectator, stationery snob, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at

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