Foster's agent confirmed that the actor is currently in negotiations to take on the role originated Off-Broadway by Lee Wilkof. At this time, Foster is scheduled to stay with the Urinetown company through March 2003. Foster joins the previously announced Alice Ripley, who is in negotiations to portray Audrey in the upcoming musical, which will have a pre-Broadway stint at the Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables, Florida, this spring prior to Broadway previews July 22.
Hunter Foster's Broadway credits include Footloose, Les Misérables, Grease! and the concert staging of King David. Foster also understudied and performed the title role of Martin Guerre during that show's tour. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Foster wrote the book for the musical Summer of '42, which recently played Off Broadway's Variety Arts Theatre. His sister, Tony Award winner Sutton Foster, also stars on Broadway, in Thoroughly Modern Millie.
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. The premiere cast included Lee Wilkof as Seymour, 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 coworker 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 recently) provided the creature's rich, baritone voice ("Feed Me!" was Audrey II's eternal cry). Menken and Ashman employed a 60s 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. Actor Wilkof is now a sought-after middle-aged character actor who has appeared in Kiss Me, Kate and is one of the Dromios in the current Broadway The Boys From Syracuse. He's about the right age to play Little Shop's shop-owner Mr. Mushnik.
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.