This Winter, FST’s Gompertz Theatre stage will transform into a rundown plant shop in the poorest part of town called “Mushnik’s Skid Row Florists.”
This is where we find Seymour Krelborn, a meek floral assistant with little to no self-esteem who loves strange and exotic plants. Both on and off the job, Seymour dreams of escaping Skid Row with his coworker crush, Audrey, and living happily ever after. One day, Seymour discovers a mysterious plant with an unusual taste for blood that may just turn his fantasies into reality.
Sounds like a traditional concept for a musical, right?
FST’s 50th Winter Mainstage Series opens with Little Shop of Horrors, a hit Broadway and Hollywood sci-fi musical that has entertained audiences for more than 40 years.
“It’s an exciting ride,” said FST Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins. “We produced Little Shop in 1987, but the show hadn’t been on my mind for quite some time. Then I went back and listened to it. It’s so well-written and is built for an intimate theatre space like our Gompertz Theatre.”
Little Shop of Horrors is both an exciting ride in plot and history. Directed by “The Pope of Pop Cinema” Roger Corman, a low budget horror movie with the same name was released in 1960. The film was by no means a mainstream success, but it did reach the eyes, ears, and hearts of two young creatives: Howard Ashman and Alan Menken.
Almost 20 years later, Ashman and Menken experienced what industry professionals like to call “an absolute flop” with their first collaboration: a musical titled Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.
“We were both depressed, so I decided that the next show we worked on would have to be something that was fun,” said Ashman in a 1982 feature with Playbill. “I suddenly remembered that, when I was 16, I had written a terrible musical about a man who fell in love with a flower that had opiate powers. I realized that I had subconsciously ripped off The Little Shop of Horrors.”
So, the duo set out to create a musical that mixed love, sci-fi, horror, and comedy. This time, the show was a massive success. The first Off-Broadway run of the musical ran for five years, and in 2009, it still held the title as the highest-grossing production in Off-Broadway history.
"I think Little Shop of Horrors has some of the best musical theatre writing that exists," said show director Sean Daniels. "Many of the songs are just a joy to hear over and over again. But I think it's also about this very universal idea—the pressure that we all feel to make things happen when we get our one shot at fame, money, or success."
Sam Seferian, who plays Seymour in Little Shop at FST, thinks the musical is so popular due to its unique blend of drama and comedy.
"On the surface, it’s an incredibly silly and sweet little gem of a show," said Seferian. "I think audiences fall in love with that aspect, and are surprised by the deeper dramatic stakes of the musical. It really is the best of both worlds!"
And you don't have to be a diehard fan of musical theatre to enjoy this tongue-in-cheek musical comedy.
"I think it just has everything going for it," said Samantha Duval, who returns to FST after performing in this Summer's hit Cabaret, Divas Three, to play Seymour's love interest, Audrey. "It has a really great soundtrack full of super catchy songs, just enough horror to keep you engaged, a love story, and aliens…What else do you need?"
Little Shop of Horrors begins playing November 15 in FST's Gompertz Theatre. For tickets and more information, click here.
By Dellan Short and Lydia Baxter
Header Image: Sam Seferian (Seymour). Photo by John Jones.