Encores! Off-Center is presenting Little Shop of Horrors in concert beginning July 1, and recreating her legendary portrayal of Audrey is Ellen Greene, the original star from the show's 1982 stage production as well as the 1986 movie adaptation.
In honor of this exciting concert, we have got full Playbills for Little Shop's first-ever stage productions. It began its life as an Equity Showcase at the WPA theatre, where original book writer, lyricist and director Howard Ashman was artistic director. Flipping through the program from this production gives you a good sense of how humble the show's beginnings truly were. You'll also get to see that composer Alan Menken himself was in the pit for Little Shop's premiere.
Special thanks to Alan Menken and Rick Kunis for providing us with a copy of the WPA production's program.
The production at the WPA was so successful that producers almost immediately lined up to transfer the show to a commercial Off-Broadway run. The production closed its run at the WPA theatre June 6, 1982. On July 27, Little Shop of Horrors opened Off-Broadway at the East Village's Orpheum Theatre, current home to Stomp. The production went on to enjoy a five-year 2,209-performance run—it was at that time the highest-ever grossing Off-Broadway production. Below you can flip through Little Shop of Horrors' original Off-Broadway Playbill. You might be interested to see who decided to produce the show's commercial run—there's one man in particular who, in 1982, was at the beginning of his career, but has become ubiquitous in the world of theatrical producing today.
Sharp-eyed Little Shop fans may notice that this Playbill is not the opening-night cast; Chiffon was initially played by Marlene Danielle, but she was replaced by Leilani Jones, who had created the role in the WPA production, just about two weeks after opening. Head to her bio to find out why.
Read the original Off-Broadway program!