Florida Engagement of Little Shop of Horrors Opens May 16

By Andrew Gans
16 May 2003

Hunter Foster and Alice Ripley star in Little Shop of Horrors.
Hunter Foster and Alice Ripley star in Little Shop of Horrors.
Photo by Richard Mitchell

The eagerly awaited Broadway-bound production of Little Shop of Horrors opens May 16 at the Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables, Florida. Previews began May 7.

Starring Hunter Foster as beleaguered Skid Row plant-shop clerk Seymour and Alice Ripley as Audrey, the woman of his dreams, this limited developmental engagement 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. The Alan Menken-Howard Ashman musical will play through June 15 at the Florida theatre.

The cast of the new staging of the musical spoof of B-grade horror pictures includes Foster (as Seymour), Ripley (as Audrey), Billy Porter (as the voice of Audrey II), Reg Rogers (as dentist-sadist Orin), Lee Wilkof (as Mr. Mushnik), Dioni Michelle Collins (as Crystal), Haneefah Wood (as Ronnette) and Moeisha McGill (as Chiffon). The late, Emmy Award-winning actor Robert Stack ("The Untouchables") recorded a voiceover that opens the musical.

The company will head into the recording studio June 23 to preserve the new version. Sony Classical will release the CD at a date to be named later.



The New York production at the Virginia Theatre, which marks the musical's Broadway bow, will begin previews July 22 prior to an official opening Aug. 14. Tickets for that production will go on sale to the general public June 8. An AmericanExpress ad for the musical ran in the May 11 New York Times, offering Gold Card members a chance to purchase tickets before the general on-sale date.

Audrey II, the alien plant that threatens to devour the world, has been designed by puppeteer Martin P. Robinson, who will also control the plant from within. Robinson recently told the Miami Herald that the plant will extend over several rows of seats and be able to grab theatregoers. "I want wet seats!," said Robinson, "They should be covered in plastic." Robinson also designed the original Audrey II for its lengthy Off-Broadway run.

Connie Grappo directs the new production with choreography by Kathleen Marshall. The remainder of the creative team comprises Henry Aronson (musical director), Scott Pask (scenic designer), Laura Bauer (costume designer), Donald Holder (lighting designer) and T. Richard Fitzgerald (sound designer).

Tickets for the Florida run are priced at $27 during previews. After opening, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings and all matinee performances are $35; Friday and Saturday evening tickets are $40. Tickets may be purchased by calling the theatre's box office at (305) 444-9293 or Ticketmaster at (305) 358-5885. The Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre is located at 280 Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, FL; for more information, visiwww.actorsplayhouse.org.

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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 starred 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.