It's said of comedy that timing is everything. That refers to an actor's moves, but it also could apply to the time a theater decides to present a show.
The Show Palace Dinner Theatre hit the mark with its summertime starter, Little Shop of Horrors, playing matinees and evenings through July 17.
The 1982 musical sendup of 1950s scifi and horror flicks goes down as easy as a sorbet-topped fruit salad and, at a little more than two hours long, is, like a visit to the beach, long enough to have fun, but not so long as to get a sunburn.
Thanks to excellent casting, Tom Hansen's color-drenched sets, Scott Daniel's spot-on costume design and a trio of adorable Street Urchins (Ayana Major Bey, Jasmine Knight and Nathalie Hostin) doing Motown, doo-wop and rock throughout the show, Little Shop's horrors are nothing but fun.
Set in a down-and-out Skid Row flower shop, Little Shop is the tale of the nerdy Seymour Krelborn (Scott Daniel), whose discovery of a strange plant in a Chinese flower mart brings fame to him and his employer, Mr. Mushnik (Tony Triano), and love and eventual disaster to him and his co-worker, Audrey (Elizabeth Claire Bailey).
Daniel makes an adorable Seymour, with wistfully crooked grin, curly red hair peeking from under an adolescent's red baseball cap, horn-rimmed glasses with neatly-wound white tape holding on the left earpiece, but the clear, powerful voice of a full-grown angel.
Ms. Bailey's sweet, but very shop-worn Audrey, with the look and mannerisms reminiscent of the late, great Madeline Kahn of Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles fame, does a hilarious spoof of tasteless suburban dreams in Somewhere That's Green, a paean to tract houses and plastic covers for the furniture.
Triano's gruff, selfish shop owner Mushkin has just the right amount of sputter and bluff to make him despicably lovable — and cheerfully expendable.
But the scene-stealer of the show is Matthew McGee, who plays Audrey's abusive boyfriend, the maniacally cruel dentist, Orin Scrivello, and a half dozen other parts, each one equally side-splitting. Whether McGee is strutting around in an Elvis-like black leather jacket with Dr. Orin's dentist's coat underneath, chortling about torturing little puppies and kitties in preparation for his life's work as a dentist, or in one of a half dozen other characters, he's a total delight.
The centerpiece is the huge plant, Audrey II, well-voiced by Frank Edmondson III and manipulated by Joel Gennari and crew.
Though the show's satire comes through loud and clear, some of the cultural references may sail over the heads of some in the audience. Donna Reed? Howdy Doody?