Little Shop's Pre-Bway Run Plays FL May 7-June 15, 2003

News   Little Shop's Pre-Bway Run Plays FL May 7-June 15, 2003 The new production of Little Shop of Horrors that's coming to Broadway will be seen in its regional Florida tryout in May-June 2003, rather than the previously-announced March-April.

The new production of Little Shop of Horrors that's coming to Broadway will be seen in its regional Florida tryout in May-June 2003, rather than the previously-announced March-April.

The later spring dates allow the show to jump right to a summer Broadway start, a move that will grab the immediate attention of the tourist market in a time when new shows generally do not open on Broadway.

Director Connie Grappo's staging, to be produced by Richard Frankel, Marc Routh, Thomas Viertel and Steven Baruch, will start at Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables, FL, May 7-15 (in previews) and open there May 16 for a run to June 15.

The March-April dates at the resident professional company have been taken by the troupe's staging of Floyd Collins.

No Little Shop casting has been officially announced by the producers, though the usual array of names have been making the rumor circuit. Previews will start on Broadway in July, with an August opening expected. Ron Melrose is musical director for the revival of the Off Broadway hit, which has never played Broadway before.

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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 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 (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.