In 1982, playwright/lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menkin decided to create a musical comedy based on director Roger Corman’s 1960 movie about a plant with a taste for human flesh.
It was the second collaboration between the two, who would go on to launch Disney into the animated musical business by providing the scores for “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast” before Ashman’s untimely death at the age of 40.
“Little Shop,” currently being presented by the Alhambra Theatre & Dining, is one strange story. It’s a bloodbath played as a comedy and it actually is quite funny.
The lead character, Seymour, is a nerd and a loser who works in Mushnik’s Skid Row Florist. Seymour has discovered an unusual plant during a recent solar eclipse. The plant has been failing to thrive until one day Seymour accidentally pricks a finger and discovers his plant craves blood. The plant begins flourishing, and attracting new business to Mushnik’s suddenly successful shop.
But Seymour is running low on blood. He hits on a solution: murder a dentist who has been dating Audrey, Mushnik’s other employee on whom Seymour has a profound crush. The dentist, a sadist, has been treating Audrey abusively. So Seymour decides to feed him to the plant he’s named Audrey II. Soon Audrey II is consuming human flesh regularly and growing rapidly.
The Alhambra cast is quite strong with Jessica Booth giving an outstanding performance as Audrey. The score by Ashman and Menkin is full of excellent songs. The show is a fast paced and amusing look at the potential demise of the human race.
Charlie Patton: (904) 359-4413