Little Shop Gets Bway's Virginia; Cast and Creative Team Complete

News   Little Shop Gets Bway's Virginia; Cast and Creative Team Complete The Broadway debut of Little Shop of Horrors, the once-Off-Broadway sensation that spawned tours, resident runs and a Hollywood film, will play the Virginia Theatre beginning July 22, a production spokesman confirmed.

The complete cast and creative team was also confirmed Feb. 25. Joining the already-announced Hunter Foster (as Seymour), Alice Ripley (as Audrey), Billy Porter (as the voice of Audrey II), Reg Rogers (as dentist-sadist Orin) and Lee Wilkof (as Mr. Mushnik) will be Dioni Michelle Collins (as Crystal), Moe Daniels (as Ronnette), Moeisha McGill (as Chiffon).

Opening is Aug. 14. Connie Grappo directs. Kathleen Marshall choreographs. Musical director is Henry Aronson. Designers are Scott Pask (scenic), Laura Bauer (costume), Donald Holder (lighting) and T. Richard Fitzgerald (sound).

The Broadway run is preceded by a tryout at The Actors Playhouse in Coral Gables, FL, May 7-June 15.

Set in "Skid Row" in the 1960s, the musical by Howard Ashman (book and lyrics) and Alan 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.

An on-sale date is expected to be announced shortly. 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.

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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."