A spokesperson for the musical confirmed the casting of the five principal players to Playbill On-Line: Hunter Foster will play the nebbishy plant-shop worker Seymour, Alice Ripley will star as his love interest Audrey, Lee Wilkof will portray plant-shop owner Mushnik, Billy Porter will supply the voice to the man-eating plant Audrey II, and Reg Rogers will play the over-the-top dentist Orin. Casting for the three back-up singers/commentators — Chiffon, Crystal and Ronnette — is still in progress. Connie Grappo will direct.
Though a theatre has yet to be named, the eagerly awaited production will begin previews on Broadway July 22 prior to an official opening 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.
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. Foster was seen in the national tours of Martin Guerre and Cats as well as the Paper Mill production of Children of Eden. 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. This past summer, Ripley starred in the Kennedy Center's production of Company and recently reprised her role as fearful bride Amy on TV's "Kennedy Center Honors." Ripley's non-show recordings include two discs with Side Show co-star Emily Skinner — "Duets" and "Unsuspecting Hearts" — and a recording of her own songs, "Everything's Fine."
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. He starred as Little Richard in CBS-TV's "Shake Rattle & Roll," and his other screen credits include "Another World," "The Intern," "Twisted" and "Soul Train." Porter's debut solo CD, "Untitled," is available from A&M Records. 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. Wilkof's screen credits include "Ally McBeal," "Law & Order," "Addicted to Love," "Private Parts," "This Boy's Life" and "Everything's Jake."
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. On screen Rogers has been seen in "Attila," "Runaway Bride," "I Shot Andy Warhol," "Igby Goes Down," "Jump" and "Get Well Soon."
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.