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Putting the "Horror" in Horticulture

October 27, 2023

On the twenty-first day of the month of September, in an early year of a decade not too long before our own, the human race suddenly encountered a deadly threat to its very existence. And this terrifying enemy surfaced—as such enemies often do—in the seemingly most innocent and unlikely of places.

With these haunting words, FST’s 50th Winter Mainstage Series will officially open with Little Shop of Horrors, a cult classic from the brilliant minds of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. Called “Extraordinary” and “A weird and adorable show with teeth” by TimeOut New York, Little Shop of Horrors is a quirky musical that has made millions of theatergoers around the world laugh, scream, and give up gardening for good.

Pictured: Sam Seferian (Seymour). Photo by John Jones.

The musical follows Seymour Krelborn, a down-on-his-luck assistant at Mushnik’s Skid Row Florists, who fantasizes about escaping Skid Row and bringing his dream girl and coworker, Audrey, along for the ride. But Seymour is stuck working for his grouchy boss, Mr. Mushnik, and is far too insecure to ask Audrey out.

That all changes when Seymour finds a strange and unusual plant that starts to bring special attention to him and Mushnik’s flower shop. The plant—which Seymour names Audrey II—turns out to be more than just roots, chlorophyll, and leaves. Audrey II can talk and promises Seymour everything he’s ever dreamed of, under one condition: Seymour needs to give it BLOOD.

“Ashman and Menken take the audience on a musical thrill ride that pulls elements from all over our culture,” said Music Director Darren Server. “The show features styles of music and genres that we’re familiar with—from the beach-blanket, bubblegum horror films of the early ‘60s to the Phil Spector girl group ‘doo-wop’ style of music.”

Pictured: Samantha Duval (Audrey) and Sam Seferian (Seymour). Photo by John Jones.

Against the dark backdrop of Skid Row and a carnivorous plant is the catchy, and often upbeat, music of Ashman and Menken, who later went on to create the music for Disney’s Aladdin and Little Mermaid.

“I think Little Shop has some of the best musical theatre writing that exists,” said Director Sean Daniels. “It’s got charm, humor, and includes songs that are just a joy to hear over and over again.”

Songs like “Suddenly, Seymour,” “Feed Me (Git It),” and “Somewhere That’s Green” have become staples of the musical theatre cannon, but you don’t have to be a fan of musicals to enjoy Little Shop of Horrors.

The musical is a well-crafted concoction of science-fiction, romance, comedy, and the lightest sprinkling of horror, as the show’s name implies. However, at the core of Little Shop is an underdog story with a lot of heart.

“It’s rare for me to play a character with the dramatic stakes that Seymour has,” said Sam Seferian, who plays Seymour in FST’s production. “He has such an intense desire to move out of Skid Row that he will do just about anything to make that happen. I think everyone has felt stuck in their life at some point, and to play a character that goes through so much over the course of the show is such a treat.”

“It’s a musical about this very universal experience: the pressure to make it happen when you get your one shot,” added Daniels. “In many ways, Little Shop of Horrors asks the great American question - what would you do to get ahead? What if it meant working with aliens from outer space?”

Little Shop of Horrors begins playing November 15 in FST's Gompertz Theatre. For tickets and more information, click here.

By Michael Miller and Lydia Baxter

Header Image: Sam Seferian as Seymour. Photo by John Jones.