‘Little Shop’ At Rinker, ‘Starmaker’ At Lynn

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By: Dale King Contributing Writer

Mallory Newbrough, the actress who starred as Belle this past summer in Beauty and the Beast at the Wick Theater in Boca Raton, has returned to Palm Beach County for at least two back-to-back productions.

Newbrough portrays Audrey in the comedy rock musical, Little Shop of Horrors, Dec. 1-17 at the Rinker Playhouse in West Palm Beach. The show is a joint effort of MNM Productions and the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts.

As 2018 begins, the talented performer will be on Boca turf again, performing in Starmaker, part of the Jan McArt New Play Readings series at Boca’s Lynn University, where producer McArt continues to develop new work by South Florida playwrights. That show is set for Jan. 22.

Newbrough hasn’t been gone long. After Beauty and the Beast closed, she joined the cast of Company at the Rinker. She then headed south to the Area Stage in Coral Gables for An Octaroon, her first non-musical role in Florida.

Little Shop of Horrors, the musical reiteration of Roger Corman’s 1960 black comedy film, tells the fantasy tale of a down-and-out florist shop clerk, Seymour Krelborn, portrayed by Mike Westrich, who previously appeared in MNM’s productions of Hair and Spamalot, among other shows. He buys a strange Venus fly trap type of plant that grows into a talking, singing, nasty, blood-sucking, pot-bound mammoth that eats humans and wants to take over the world.

With music by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, the delightful, toe-tapping, rock and roll/doo-wop musical opened off-off Broadway in the early 1980s. It was released as a musical film starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene and Vincent Gardenia in 1986. Levi Stubbs, lead singer of the musical group, the Four Tops, provided the voice of the plant – affectionately dubbed Audrey II.

In her role, Newbrough portrays the ditzy blonde florist shop clerk opposite Westrich. Peter Librach comes directly from the cast of MNM’s just-completed La Cage aux Folles to star as Mr. Mushnik, the florist shop owner.

Despite its odd theme, the show contains a lot of good music – and Newbrough gets to sing several exceptional songs – among them, the tender, wishful ballad “Somewhere that’s Green” and a duet with Westrich, “Suddenly, Seymour.”

Another familiar face graces the Little Shop stage – Shenise Nunez, who has appeared in two other MNM shows, was in West Side Story, Sister Act and Curtains at the Wick and a bunch of productions at Broward Stage and Lake Worth Playhouse. Shenise will be part of the Greek chorus of “urchins” that shows up here and there along Skid Row, the show’s setting.

Bruce Linser – last seen as Man in Chair in The Drowsy Chaperone at the Wick — directs Little Shop. Paul Reekie is back as musical director for MNM.

Once into the New Year, Newbrough joins Dominic Servidio, Clay Cartland, Larry Buzzeo, Jordan Armstrong and Sean Davis in Starmaker, the true story of Hollywood super-agent Henry Willson and his relationship with his super-client, Rock Hudson, as told by Henry himself. Coincidentally, this show also has a Greek chorus made up of other Willson clients.

The musical was written by Michael Leeds – a Broadway trained director often seen helming area shows, particularly at Broward Stage – and Andy Rogow.  Leeds and Rogow are the co-artistic directors of Fort Lauderdale’s award-winning Island City Stage.

McArt, a legend herself in the theatrical field, in Boca Raton and around the world, conducts her award-winning play reading series at Lynn where she is director of Theatre Arts Program Development.

Using McArt’s play reading method, authors get a chance to bring new productions to life, working with a cast and director for five days – rehearsing and rewriting if and when necessary.

Then, at the end of those five days, their new, polished, reworked play is presented to the public, fully staged, with actors up on their feet, scripts in hand, employing minimal costuming, sets, lighting and sound, to aid them in the presentation of the new work.