A spokesperson for the production confirmed that the Emmy Award-winning actor (“The Untouchables”) has recorded a voiceover that will open the musical, set to bow on Broadway July 22. The official Broadway opening is scheduled for Aug. 14. The classic Alan Menken-Howard Ashman musical will play a limited developmental engagement at the Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables, FL, May 7 to June 15. This short run will allow the production a chance to perfect the complex scenic elements of the musical prior to the full-scale New York production this summer.
As previously announced on PBOL, the cast of the new staging of the musical includes Hunter Foster (as Seymour), Alice Ripley (as Audrey), Billy Porter (as the voice of Audrey II), Reg Rogers (as dentist-sadist Orin), Lee Wilkof (as Mr. Mushnik), Dioni Michelle Collins (as Crystal), Moe Daniels (as Ronnette) and Moeisha McGill (as Chiffon).
Connie Grappo directs the production with choreography by Kathleen Marshall. The remainder of the creative team comprises Henry Aronson (musical director), Scott Pask (scenic designer), Laura Bauer (costume designer), Donald Holder (lighting designer) and T. Richard Fitzgerald (sound designer).
Set in "Skid Row" in the 1960’s, the musical by Ashman (book and lyrics) and Menken (music) is a comic retelling of the Roger Corman B-movie about a man-eating plant from outer space, and the nebbish who nurtures it. The Greek chorus is a trio of black Motown style singers.
The show famously features a spectacular, man-eating, Venus Fly Trap like plant, designed and manipulated by Martin P. Robinson and created by Jim Henson's New York Workshop. Robinson previously designed the plant used in the original 1982 Off-Broadway production. The new Broadway staging is produced by Marc Routh, Richard Frankel, Tom Viertel, Steven Baruch, with James D. Stern, Douglas L. Meyer, Rick Steiner/James & Bonnie Osher and Simone Genatt Haft, in association with Frederick H. Mayerson and Amy Danis/Mark Johannes. The associate producers are HoriPro/TBS; Clear Channel Entertainment; Zemiro, Inc.; Judith Marinoff-Cohn and M. Swinsky/M. Fuchs.
The original production of Little Shop of Horrors opened at the old WPA Theatre in Chelsea and then transferred to the Orpheum Theatre in 1982, where it stayed for 2,209 performances. Ashman, who died on March 14, 1991, directed the piece. Edie Cowan was choreographer. The musical, which boasts such tunes as "Suddenly Seymour," "Downtown" and "Somewhere That's Green," was made into a 1986 film starring Ellen Greene as Audrey, Rick Moranis as Seymour, Vincent Gardenia as Mushnik and Steve Martin as Orin, the dentist.
The Virginia is currently home to Flower Drum Song. A closing date of March 16 has been announced for that Rodgers & Hammerstein "revisal," which will tour in 2003-04.
Hunter Foster recently starred on Broadway as Bobby Strong in the Tony nominated musical Urinetown. His previous Broadway credits include Footloose, Grease! and Les Misérables, and he also took part in the concert presentation of Alan Menken and Tim Rice's King David. Also a writer, he penned the book for the musical Summer of '42, which was mounted at the Variety Arts Theatre.
Alice Ripley, who just completed a run in the Kennedy Center's mounting of Tell Me On a Sunday, earned a Tony nomination for her performance as conjoined twin Violet Hilton in the musical Side Show. She has also appeared on Broadway in The Rocky Horror Show, James Joyce's The Dead, Sunset Boulevard, The Who's Tommy, Les Misérables and in the City Center Encores! production of Li'l Abner as well as the concert run of King David.
A renowned vocalist, Billy Porter appeared on Broadway in Grease!, Miss Saigon, Five Guys Named Moe and Smokey Joe's Cafe. Off- Broadway audiences have seen Porter in Romance in Hard Times, The Merchant of Venice and House of Lear.
Wilkof, who starred in the original Off-Broadway production of Little Shop as Seymour, received a 2000 Tony Award nomination for his work in the Tony winning revival of Kiss Me, Kate. He has also starred on Broadway in She Loves Me, The Front Page and Sweet Charity as well as the City Center Encores! production of Do Re Mi. Off Broadway, the actor-singer was seen in Mizlansky/Zilinsky and June Moon, and he received Drama Desk nominations for his work in Assassins and The Present Tense. He nabbed an Obie Award for his work in the latter as well.
Reg Rogers has starred on Broadway in The Molière Comedies, Holiday and Proposals. For his work in Holiday he received Tony and Drama Desk nominations. His Off-Broadway credits include Richard Greenberg's The Dazzle, Doug Wright's Unwrap Your Candy and John Patrick Shanley's Cellini.