Hallions visit a Little Shop to see the funny side of horror

Si came up with a cunning plan. He booked tickets for a show. Oh, not just any show and it wasn't a gig. Oh no. He booked tickets for us to go to the Grand Opera House, Belfast and see none other than the Little Shop of Horrors. So off we set, HRH 1st Regiment of the Hallion Battalion, on a night out in the big smoke.

And as an army marches on its stomach provisions were secured in that fine establishment The Bridge House, otherwise known to all and sundry as Wetherspoons. As ever the craic was mighty, food was devoured and drinks, er, drunk. Then it was off to The Grand Opera House to get ready for the night ahead.

Arriving in good time and with spirits high after chatting about upcoming changes to Belfast Metalheads Reunited (stay tuned for that one - its exciting stuff) and upcoming gigs (music is ever present with Jonny about) we milled around as Si went off to get the tickets.

The Grand Opera House is a beautiful place and has always been on the 'wouldn't mind going to see something there' list, it was really lovely to be there at last. The 'let's do it' attitude is taking hold of both Si and myself.

After a bit more milling around and making sure like good children we had, er, gone to the toilet in we went to find our seats.

Wow. What a set! the warm darkness of the theatre was actually exciting. I had forgotten what it felt like. This was a good sign. Our seats were on the ground floor and were perfectly situated. not too close to the stage and not too far back - though the set up of the the Theatre meant you were never going to be too far back. Its a beautifully intimate place. The set itself was very cleverly set up with little intermittent voice-overs from the local Skid Row radio station whilst everyone took their seat.

Then it began.......

Little Shop of Horrors is a fun musical pastiche of 1950/60s type sci-fi horror. The premise is that Seymour Krelborn is the deadbeat assistant of Mushnik who owns a Flower Shop located in the down and out gutter-like Skid Row. Nothing and noone seems to be in a good place. Seymour, however, begins to find fame and fortune after discovering a strange and exotic plant, which he names Audrey Two. he is secretly in love with Audrey, his colleague in the flower shop. Audrey Two however begins to wilt and die, threatening Seymour’s dream of a better life and hopefully wooing Audrey. By accident he discovers that the only food Audrey Two will thrive on is, you know the score, blood. Audrey Two begins to grow and grow and Seymour discovers to his horror that the carnivorous plant is a foul-mouthed, ill-tempered bully, with an bloody appetite that increasingly becomes more and more difficult for Seymour to satisfy.

The first Act introduces Skid Row, its inhabitants, and sets up the difficulty of life in the area. No real jobs, no way out and no hope of anything better. In fact the shop may have to close as no one wants to buy flowers from Mushnik's. That s until Seymour shows of his strange discovery. Things begin to look up for the shop and Seymour pines after Audrey. However, Audrey has a boyfriend - Orin, who will make you never want to see a dentist again. The act ends after a confrontation between Seymour and Orin, after a bit of prodding in the right direction by the ever present ominous presence of Audrey Two.

It was fantastic and it was so easy to suspend disbelief and submit to the story and the characters. But it was intermission time. Or in this case, icecream time.

Act Two kicks of with Seymour and Mushnik having a discussion about the sudden disappearance of Orin and the development of Seymour and Audrey's closeness. Then Seymour's own feelings of right and wrong begin to battle as things seem to be moving at a very fast pace. All leads to the culmination of a terrible confrontation between Audrey and Audrey Two as Seymour finally takes matters into his own and ultimately fruitless hands.

If you have seen the movie with Rick Morranis you will know most of the story so no big surprises, except the wonderful twist at the end. The stage play has a different ending to the movie. 

And we all sit back as the end comes and the actors take their bows to a standing ovation, and, by Crom, they deserved it. It was a fulfilling experience and the time just flew in. Well worth going and we all thought Si was spot on with his cunning plan. None of us were disappointed.

The actors played their part perfectly, the music was on the money and could that cast sing!!

Sam Lupton (Wicked) stars as Seymour alongside Stephanie Clift (Mamma Mia!) as Audrey. X Factor star Rhydian Roberts plays Orin, Paul Kissaun (Calamity Jane) plays Mushnik, Sasha Latoya (Rent) as Crystal, Vanessa Fisher (Hairspray) as Chiffon, Cassie Clare (Cats) as Ronnette and Josh Wilmott (Spamalot) as Audrey II. The cast also includes Phil Adele, Stephanie McConville and Neil Nicholas.

Go and see it while you can. Just don't feed the plants.

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