In the Spotlight: “Little Shop of Horrors”

By Sara Hursey

A talking plant, a greedy florist, and a sinister dentist just scrape the surface of what you can find in this month’s musical in the spotlight, “Little Shop of Horrors,” a large departure from the happy endings covered in this series thus far.

The first time I saw “Little Shop of Horrors,” I was amazed. Glued to my seat, I watched as an energetic cast and a giant puppet sang catchy songs that would soon become stuck in my head. I was won over by the imaginative, though dark, concept of the show, and the iconic music that flowed inside the theatre. I first saw the show many years ago at a college production, and it has remained one of my favorite musicals of all time. 

With music by legend Alan Menken, and the book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, the story of an extremely strange plant comes alive in vibrant colors.

When unhappy florist Seymour buys a mysterious plant from outer space, he names it Audrey II after his crush, who works alongside him at the flower shop. Soon after Seymour realizes that the plant only grows when it is fed blood, Audrey II starts talking and promises the dejected florist all of his dreams. Seymour begins to feed the plant blood, in the form of people. Once he feeds Audrey’s abusive dentist boyfriend to the plant, Seymour and Audrey begin to fall in love. However, the blood-thirsty plant can only go on benefitting Seymour for so long, and eventually Audrey II starts to be a real problem.

“Little Shop of Horrors” boasts one of the most well-known musical theatre songs of all time: “Suddenly Seymour,” a hopeful duet that is belted by Seymour and Audrey. It is such a moving piece of music and definitely worth a listen. Other songs use a doo-wop style which fits into the 1960s setting perfectly, while others are on the rock side, which is great for the more dramatic and dark scenes.

After a short run Off-Off-Broadway, “Little Shop” played Off-Broadway for five years starting in 1982, becoming a critically acclaimed hit. In 1986 it was adapted for the screen. It was later revived on Broadway in 2003. Currently, “Little Shop” has returned to its Off-Broadway roots and is playing in the Westside Theatre. Broadway stars Jonathan Groff and Jeremy Jordan have and will play Seymour, respectively, with Tammy Blanchard as Audrey.

In 2017, Huntley High School produced “Little Shop of Horrors” with its Freshman and Sophomore Class. This musical is among the top produced high school musicals, and with its dynamic score and wide array of characters, it is no surprise why.

“Little Shop” is a dark-humored, science-fiction musical that has become a classic. The characters are memorable, and you can listen to the songs on repeat. This musical is one of a kind and paved the way for future musicals such as “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “Beetlejuice.” The themes have stayed relevant to this day, making this musical a timeless classic. Most importantly, the show is extremely entertaining. Its twisted plot line keeps the audienced tuned in from the moment the curtain opens to when the curtain call is over.