Saturday, March 21, 2015

Little Shop of Horrors

Who doesn’t like a love story – especially one with flesh-eating plants?  Little Shop of Horrors is coming to the Frank Guaracini Jr. Theater at Cumberland County College in April – the 16th through the 19th, to be exact.  Deborah Bradshaw and company, the same people who brought Les Misérables and August Osage County to the Guaracini Theater are bringing Seymour and Audrey II to life on the stage once more.  Click right here for their Facebook page and more information:

In 1960 a filmmaker named Rodger Corman shot a darkly comedic movie called, Little Shop of Horrors.  It had some strange and wonderful things going for it.  There was a flower shop made up from left over sets, a little known young actor named Jack Nicholson in a small role, and a man-eating plant named Audrey Jr.  The plot revolves around a man, Seymour, who works in a florist shop who accidentally becomes the caretaker of a plant that demands to be fed human flesh.  Initially, the movie had some problems getting distribution but it eventually found its footing and it became a cult classic – the kind of film that would come on after the 11:00 o’clock news and play on until the early morning.  It turns out Little Shop had feet.  In an interview in 1995 with M.J. Simpson, Corman said, “I shot Little Shop of Horrors in two days and a night for about $30,000, and the picture has lasted all these years.”  

In 1982 the story was adapted into a musical by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman.  It started on Off-Off-Broadway and then it hit.  There was a Broadway run, a UK run at the West End Theater in London, a US and a UK tour.  There were some changes between the original film and the musical.  There was now a more salient love story, Nicholson’s role was gone, and Audrey II (not Audrey Jr.) was not simply a plant that wanted flesh and blood for sustenance – she was now a space pod alien bent on world domination!  The catchy musical numbers and strange story where, in some productions, members of the audience were eaten struck a chord and it became very popular in Europe and America.  It still is and theater companies continue to make magic with the show. 

In 1986, Frank Oz directed the film version of Little Shop of Horrors.  It combined elements from both the original film and the musical.  Rick Moranis played Seymour, Ellen Greene as Audrey, Steve Martin played the sadistic dentist and Bill Murray was his happily masochistic patient.  The movie, after being set before test audiences who didn’t get it, had its ending changed.  Now there were two endings – the happy Hollywood ending where Seymour and Audrey live happily ever after and the ending that was more akin to the 1982 musical where Audrey II takes over the world.  The original ending was restored to the film in 2012. 

With all of these different ways to enjoy Little Shop what way is the best?  Well, that would have to be intimately and in a theater.  In April, you will have the chance to do just that.  Show dates are the 16th through the 19th and you can get tickets right here:

If you see only one show about a man-eating plant from another world this year make this the one!   

See you at the Guaracini Theater in April.

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