Little Shop to Play Florida's Actors' Playhouse Prior to B'way

News   Little Shop to Play Florida's Actors' Playhouse Prior to B'way A new production of the offbeat Off-Broadway hit Little Shop of Horrors is being prepped for a Broadway berth.

A new production of the offbeat Off-Broadway hit Little Shop of Horrors is being prepped for a Broadway berth.

As previously announced on PBOL, the Frankel-Routh-Viertel-Baruch Group — some of the folks who backed The Producers — are behind the venture. A recent casting notice reveals that the production will have an out of-town run at the Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables, FL, from March 5, 2003 to April 13, 2003. Broadway previews — originally targeted for Jan. 2003 — are now slated to begin on July 22, 2003, and the official opening at a Broadway theatre to be announced is scheduled for Aug. 14. Connie Grappo will direct, and Ron Melrose is musical director.

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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 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, 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 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.

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.