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Little Shop of Horrors as presented by Tullyvin Musical Society

Little Shop of Horrors as presented by Tullyvin Musical Society

Date of Adjudicated Performance: Wednesday 18th October 2023

Sullivan Section - Caroline Daly Jones

Storm Babet raged across the country as I made my way to Cavan on Wednesday 18th October to see Little Shop of Horrors with Tullyvin Musical Society for their 2023 Production. Tullyvin Musical Society was formed in 2015 and it is obvious from the moment I arrived that this Company is building a great team and a lovely humble Musical Society, which enveloped me the moment I arrived at this beautifully decorated, warm, and welcoming venue in Cavan. As you entered the foyer you were immediately transported to The Little Shop of Horrors. The plant's greenery and lighting were very evident from the minute you entered. Well done on this touch. I loved it.

Thank you also to the fabulous FOH team – Natalia, Jackie, Pamela and Stephen who looked after me and boy did, I need the sandwiches and delicious cakes at half time and the lovely pot of tea.

A gentleman arrived with a flashlight from the back of the hall in a beige trench coat and a black hat and not sure as to his role, he began to go through the fire exits and health and safety in such a funny and effective way. It was different, and funny despite the seriousness of what he was doing, which of course is of vital importance to the safety of the audience and indeed the cast. This was the first laugh of the evening such was the way he communicated with the audience as he was walking up and down the aisle. Well done Mr Brian Feerick who may I mention also worked with the very effective team of Stage Crew and Builders. A Lovely touch. This was very clever.

The show opens with the set that is Muchnik's Flower Shop lit in green, with the Theatre also lit in green with dry ice subtly floating around the theatre creating atmosphere of fog and poverty and immediately the audience were in the bubble of what appeared as a very sad and lonely location that is Skid Row in New York.

The Director for this show was Mr Paul Norton. I liked Mr Norton's Direction. This show had emotion, drama, sadness, comedy, magic (the plant!) and love, and Mr Norton’s direction brought each one of these areas to life beautifully as the story evolved. Even as an incredibly talented gentleman onstage himself he was also there for everyone else. Lovely Direction Mr Norton in all areas.

Choreography by Julianne McNamara and Dance Captain Astra O’Leary was creative and although not a huge dance show, there was barely a movement out of place. Well done.

The live orchestra in front of the stage- 5 in all with Musical Director, Mr David McGauran as Conductor from the second the Overture started worked beautifully together creating a professional and very secure sound. This was a good team. Mr McGauran also had responsibility of playing Keyboard 1, Saxophone & Clarinet. No mean feat.

The Orchestra was solid, sounded very well and from Note 1 of the show when Mr McGauran picked up his baton this Orchestra was very good and set the scene of what was to come.

The set worked extremely well. I loved that the set was on sliders. Each was wheeled off and on and given the very constricted space for this Company to work with Backstage this a very clever set. Credit to Stage Designer, Stephen Hannigan, stage builders Stephen McCormack and Jason Nulty and stage crew Brian Feerick, Seamus Clarke and Sean McKiernan. Mr Mushnik's Flower shop was so pretty and all the wallpaper with pink roses was highly effective. The attention to detail for example the NORTON PARKING SPACE – All vehicles will be crushed was subtle (!) and the OXO and Marmite posters dotted around the stage, plus the old telephones on both sides of the set. This created humour, thought and attention to detail and I like that. These little things to me are so important. It gives you an insight into the show “family”. Lovely touches from set artist, Olivia Canavan. The Opening of Act 2 the show opened with Audrey 11 the plant much larger and in all its glory a spectacular vision on stage, it seemed to attach itself to the walls was a vision. It was like a painting. So very effective.

Costumes were overall very good. Skid row cast were dressed in clothing befitting their social status and I particularly liked the Drunk costuming. Make up was well done throughout and especially for Audrey - her injuries from her abusive boyfriend were very good indeed. I also loved her blonde wig – a Marilyn Monroe resemblance, I’m sure. Other lovely touches with a nod to Tara Killilea on Costumes, were the pink dusters and the mops on their feet used in the song with “Tomorrow We Will Be Open Again” it got a laugh from the audience and again a small detail thought out, but so effective in creating a lightness in the less serious moments of the show.

When we are introduced to Seymour (Colm Shalvey) I was drawn to this character’s quiet humble demeanour. He shows little confidence in himself and as the character's part develops so does Mr Shalvey’s confidence and performance. Mr Shalvey’s acting in the scenes where he was dancing on the counter, when in the Dentist's Chair with Dr Orin (Liam Wallace), feeding Audrey 2 the plant, and keeping all his secrets intact with the disappearances of Dr Orin & Mr Mushnik were simply super. In the scene with Dr Orin played by Liam Wallace, Mr Shalvey really came into his own. Very well done.

Audrey played by Emily Smith was played simply, humbly and with great grace. From the moment we met her she portrayed a very gentle, vulnerable young lady in love with the wrong kind of guy in Orin the Dentist. Ms Smith had a lovely sweet lyrical singing voice. This young lady had a beautiful innocence about her, gentle, kind, and just a lovely quiet lovable presence. Her solo “Somewhere That’s Green” showed off her gentle melodic and sweet voice, you could hear a pin drop. It was gorgeous. Ms Smith is most definitely a star for the future.

Mr Mushnik was played by Mr Paul Norton and what struck me immediately was his wonderful stage presence, timing, and empathy with his fellow actors. No stranger to stage Mr Norton moved fluidly and with ease around the stage and looked great. His dynamic with Seymour and Audrey was super.

This was a lovely trio that worked well together. I particularly liked “Ya Never Know” with Mushnik, Crystal, Chiffon and Ronette and “Closed for Renovations” with Seymour, Rushnik and Audrey. A strong singing voice and assured acting. I’m sure that Mr Norton relished the opportunity to reprise his Jewish accent and I loved the Tevye touch. Very well played.

As mentioned, Dr Orin the Dentist was played by Liam Wallace. His comedic timing was very good, and he brought the necessary attributes to the stage in his performance of the slightly mad, brutal and drug addicted Dentist. His singing as Dr Orin was good and his duet in the dentist chair with Seymour was excellent. Mr Wallace (The Dentist) also played the Audrey 2 vocals, and this was done very well. The singing as Audrey 2 was strong and assertive. A very special mention to Mr Stephen Hannigan here who was the Puppeteer of Audrey 2. Now this is no mean feat when I see inside of Audrey 2 the plant after the show backstage. The timing of the plant movement in all scenes were impeccable however it was during the songs it was most noted as the Plants timing of mouth opening, singing, shouting speaking, and swallowing the bodies had to be perfect, or it just would not have worked.

The opening of the show we met the three ladies, Alanna Pepper (Crystal), Emma McKenna (Ronette), Scarlett McCormack (Chiffon). These three young ladies had nice voices, worked well together, totally in sync with one another and looked great. They had lovely smiles and opened the show with a bang - “Little Shop of Horrors” followed immediately by the full Company singing “Downtown Skid Row”. A lively and lovely opening.

Other roles including, Drunk played by Jason Nulty - very well done looking drunk in the beginning of the show to practically hammered and much worse for wear at the end was very effective. Excellent costume. Mr Bernstein, played by Eoghan McCaul, was hard to hear in parts. I missed some of these lines. I think it was that he was speaking across the

stage towards the wings –but other than that a lovely part. Mrs Luce played by Pamela McCormack who is also Chairperson of this Society was great. Another little laugh when she was trying to seduce Seymour, throwing her leg boldly around his waist! Great costume with the fur coat and diamante jewellery and looking very distinguished indeed.

Skip Snip was played by Andrea Fitzpatrick, Patrick Martin (Customer) was played by Conor Lynch, (Roses were beautiful) - nod to Costumes again – nice touch, and the Prologue Voice very concise and very clear – Mr Jason Nulty. Also, there is no such thing as a small part – little things like there was a pit chorus of 5 ladies with the headdresses in Ivy also in green and added to the overall sound but were also inclusive not separate. Nice touch.

The chorus produced a lovely sound onstage. Assured voices, great harmonies and in

ensemble scenes they were integral and highly effective. The Finale of the show “Don’t feed The Plants” brought the whole Cast onstage, with mention to the men adorning the huge red petal head dresses which were very effective, with the ladies dressed very decoratively in what was a very eye-catching Finale to Act 2.

One observation of my own, is that I really would like to have heard the full cast sing one more big number to close, it occurred to me that maybe the Finale was left to the end and the Society ran out of time to rehearse bows or do an Encore or maybe indeed this was the absolute call of the Creative team, however just in my own opinion, an Encore of “Suddenly Seymour” – a showstopper of this show or “Somewhere that’s Green “would have been lovely to finish off a truly lovely evening and I just felt more could have been done with this to end the show on a song rather than a cast bow and exit. There are some young members in the chorus, and I hope that they all remain and develop as there is indeed a lot of talent on display.

Keep singing, keep dancing and keep going. You are a wonderful group of very talented people. There is a lovely sense of community and camaraderie in this lovely group. It was a privilege to be in the audience tonight, thank you for making me feel so welcome. It has a lovely, homely feel to it with the welcome from Pamela McCormack as Chairperson and her team to match. I wish you all the very best for your future shows and build on what you have achieved as a group, because it is worth it.

Well done and thank you again for the most gracious and warmest of welcomes to The Tullyvin Community Centre, Congratulations.

Caroline Daly Jones, Sullivan Adjudicator

Some photos kindly shared by the society to accompany the review:

Photographer credit: Seamus Smith


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