Last week Little Shop of Horrors debuted as part of the 2015 Encores! Off-Center season. The cast included Oscar nominee Jake Gyllenhaal as Seymour, Tony Award Nominee Ellen Greene reprising her legendary performance as Audrey, Saturday Night Live player Taran Killam as Orin, Joe Grifasi as Mushnik, Anwar Kareem and Eddie Cooper (son of Tony Award winner, Chuck Cooper) as the killer plant Audrey II, and Tracy Nicole Chapman, Marva Hicks, and Ramona Keller — best known for their performances as the Radio in the musical Caroline, or Change — star as the Urchins.
From The New York City Center Website;
Before Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid, there was a sinister little houseplant saying, “Feed me.” Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s giddy, gory musical Little Shop of Horrors was their first major hit, running Off-Broadway for five years and spawning a 1986 cult-classic film. Now the show returns to City Center in a special event starring Oscar nominee Jake Gyllenhaal as Seymour Krelborn, a hapless florist who pursues a doomed romance with his ditzy, lovable co-worker Audrey (Tony Award nominee Ellen Greene) by acquiring a plant that feeds on human blood.
The production only ran for three performances July 1 – July 2, and each show was completely sold out! And for good reason, as the show received mostly positive reviews from critics.
What made this production particularly exciting was forgoing the usual extensive special-effect puppet that is Audrey II, and instead having the plant on stage as a fully visible little boy (play by Anwar Kareem) that eventually transforms later, to a large man with a soothing bass voice (played by Eddie Cooper). The choice seemed to sit well with most critics as the USA Today stated;
Eddie Cooper brought a booming voice and a chilling gregariousness to the part of the bloodthirsty plant (named Audrey II), who brings money and fame to Seymour and the shop but makes increasingly heavy demands on our hero’s conscience.
Tracy Nicole Chapman, Marva Hicks and Ramona Keller lent witty, sultry support as the three ladies who function as the show’s girl-group chorus. “You know the meek are gonna get what’s comin’ to em,” they tease Seymour towards the end.
The show was last seen on Broadway in New York in a 2003 production starring Hunter Foster and Kerry Butler, the show closed on August 22, 2004 after 40 previews and 372 regular performances.
Next up for Encores! Off-Center, The Wild Party which begins July 15 and stars Sutton Foster, Steven Pasquale, and Brandon Victor Dixon.