The new production of Little Shop of Horrors being prepped for a Broadway berth in 2003 with have an out-of-town tryout at the Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables, FL. The stop, running from March 5 to April 13, 2003, according to the playhouse's website, and will be the venture's only pre Broadway stand.
Little Shop will be produced by the Frankel-Routh Viertel-Baruch Group—some of the folks who backed The Producers. A recent casting notice had the mounting playing a six-week, out-of-town tryout beginning in October with a targeted Broadway arrival in January 2003. But that notice was quickly rescinded and the timetable has apparently been pushed back about six months.
Connie Grappo will direct. Ron Melrose is musical director.
Little Shop was the biggest commercial success to come entirely from the pens of composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman (the stage version of the Menken-Ashman Beauty and the Beast utilized extra tunes by Menken and Tim Rice). It originated at the old WPA Theatre in Chelsea and then transferred to the Orpheum Theatre in 1982, where it stayed for 2,209 performances. The show has never played on Broadway. The original cast included Lee Wilkof as Seymour (he is married to Connie Grappo), a skid row schlub who works in the down-at-heel flower shop of Mushnik (Hy Anzell) and yearns for the affection of ditzy blonde co-worker Audrey (Ellen Greene), who unfortunately is stuck on a sadistic dentist named Orin (Franc Luz). Seymour's fortunes change when the strange plant he takes under his care grows into a huge Venus Fly Trap like behemoth, winning him media attention, riches, respect and the love of Audrey. Unfortunately, the plant— dubbed Audrey II (voice by Ron Taylor)—needs a particular food to survive: human blood. Following this discovery, the cast subsequently decreases in size.
The musical was based of a 1960 Roger Corman B movie by the same name. The physical plant had to be manipulated by actor Martin P. Robinson, while Taylor (who died in 2001) provided the creature's rich, baritone voice ("Feed Me!" was Audrey II's eternal cry). Menken and Ashman employed a '60s Motown-style, three-member girl group as the show's chorus. Leilani Jones played the original Chiffon, Jenifer Leigh was Crystal and Sheila Kay Davis was Ronette.
Among the better know tunes from the score were "Suddenly Seymour," "Downtown" and "Somewhere That's Green."
Ashman, who died on March 14, 1991, directed the piece. Edie Cowan was choreographer.
The musical was made into a 1986 film starring Greene, Rick Moranis as Seymour, Vincent Gardenia as Mushnik and Steve Martin as Orin.