If you see the 1986 movie Little Shop of Horrors (the one with Rick Moranis and Steve Martin) you’re actually seeing a film based on a Broadway musical that’s based on another film. The original muse is 1960 dark comedy directed by Roger Corman and featuring Jack Nicholson in a small role. The musical made quite a few revisions to the film and added and subtracted several characters. The 1986 film remained fairly true to the stage musical minus the ending.
Little Shop of Horrors the musical debuted off-Broadway on May 6, 1982. It ran off-Broadway for five years or 2,209 performances. When it closed it was the highest-grossing off-Broadway production of all-time. It was set to transfer to The Great White Way, but the musical’s book writer, Howard Ashman, thought the production was better suited for the off-Broadway stage. The show was ineligible for a Tony Award but it did win trophies from the New York Drama Critics Circle, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle.
In 2003, producers spent millions of dollars to bring Little Shop of Horrors to a Broadway theater. The revived production debuted in Coral Gables, Florida with some big names in the cast including the talented Hunter Foster, the great Alice Ripley, and the voice of Robert Stack. When critics found the new LSOH to be flat, producers fired the director and brought in Jerry Zaks. Subsequently, he fired everyone but Foster. Cleaning house worked as Little Shop of Horrors tickets were finally collected on Broadway on Oct. 2, 2003. The production ran for 40 previews and 372 regular performances. When it closed, the cast included former ‘N Sync member Joey Fatone.
Even though the monster plant involved in the story takes some special effects, Little Shop of Horrors is best experienced in a small, intimate theatre. That makes it perfect for national touring companies and regional theaters. The show’s music was composed by the amazing Alan Menken with lyrics and book by the aforementioned Ashman.
Using music styled after early rock and roll and doo wop, Little Shop of Horrors is about Seymour, a poor orphan who works at a florist shop. Seymour finds a mysterious, talking plant that he names Audrey II. This plant helps Seymour become famous and romantically involved with his pretty co-worker (who is named Audrey). Since Audrey II can only survive on human blood, Seymour soon finds himself struggling to hold on to his new found riches and keeping his evil plant well fed.