Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Little Shop of Horrors
Ford's Theatre
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's recent reviews of Company, At the Wedding and Penelope

Derrick D. Truby Jr. and
Chani Wereley

Photo by Scott Suchman
With the imminent arrival of spring, it's a good time for theatregoers to revisit the world of Little Shop of Horrors. The current production at Ford's Theatre in Washington is a delight, from a wildly talented cast to the visual impact of Paige Hathaway's color-saturated set–and of course, the amazing Audrey Two, as engineered by Monkey Boys Productions, operated by Jay Frisby and Ryan Sellers, and given rapturous voice by Tobias A. Young.

Director Kevin S. McAllister has looked beyond previous productions of the musical by Howard Ashman (book and lyrics) and Alan Menken (music) in his casting, finding accomplished performers with fine voices while emphasizing diversity and stepping away from what audiences might expect.

As played by Derrick D. Truby, Seymour, the floral shop employee who discovers and nurtures Audrey Two before he realizes what he's gotten himself into, is still a lovable nebbish. The fact that he's a tall, large man, a bit ungainly, adds to the humor: he towers over his boss Mr. Mushnik (Lawrence Redmond, hilariously dyspeptic) and doesn't realize what he's capable of until it's too late. Audrey (Chani Wereley), Seymour's co-worker and crush, is not a bottle blonde and she demonstrates inner strength; life may have been tough, but she still believes in something better. And Joe Mallon, as Audrey's bullying beau Orin, at first comes across as all bluster and doesn't reveal the character's darker side until later. He also shines in several small roles that require quick changes of both costume and accent.

Similarly, the technical elements stand out without calling undue attention to themselves. Hathaway's scenic design uses vivid colors to make Skid Row appear just slightly more intense than realistic. Alejo Vietti's costumes delineate character–each of the three singing street urchins (Kaiyla Gross, Nia Savoy-Doc, and Kanysha Williams) has her own individual look–and Max Doolittle's lighting design provides both rapturous skies and moments of horror. Choreographer Ashleigh King keeps things moving with style and imagination (especially when Audrey Two is involved), with powerful support from five musicians led by William Yanesh.

Little Shop of Horrors runs through May 18, 2024, at Ford's Theatre, 511 Tenth St. NW, Washington DC. For tickets and information, please call 202-347-4833 or visit

Book and lyrics by Howard Ashman
Music by Alan Menken
Based on the film by Roger Corman, screenplay by Charles Griffith
Directed by Kevin S. McAllister
Choreographer: Ashleigh King
Music director: William Yanesh

Ronnette: Kaiyla Gross
Chiffon: Nia Savoy-Dock
Crystal: Kanysha Williams
Audrey: Chani Wereley
Mr. Mushnik: Lawrence Redmond
Seymour: Derrick D. Truby Jr.
Orin/Bernstein/Snip/Luce/Everyone Else: Joe Mallon
Audrey II (Voice): Tobias A. Young
Audrey II (Manipulation)/Derelict: Jay Frisby, Ryan Sellers