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Little Shop of Horrors
Book and Lyrics by Howard Ashman, Music by Alan Menken
First produced Off-Off-Broadway in 1982
I ended up watching the movie version from 1986, starring Rick Moranis as Seymour
THEME/STORY: Little Shop of Horrors is a love story, but also a warning of what happens if you do anything to get what you want. Seymour discovers a plant from outer space, and discovers that when this plant is fed human blood, things suddenly go right for him. This eventually backfires on him, as his new-found fame overwhelms him, and he must destroy the very thing that gave him that fame.
“Skid Row” (beginning of Act I) — Establishes setting and mood, but also introduces us to Seymour. Seymour’s section of the song is simultaneously an “I am” and “I want” song: we learn that Seymour is an orphan, that he’s a sweet guy, hardworking, and a bit of a pushover. We also learn that he doesn’t want to live on Skid Row, and is looking for any way to leave.
“Feed Me (Git It)” (end of Act I) — Sets up the events of Act II. Audrey II reveals that it’s a supernatural entity (“If I can talk, and I can move, who’s to say I can’t do anything I want?”), and in order to continue Seymour’s success, it needs blood. Seymour is resistant at first (“I have so, so many strong reservations”), but when Audrey II pushes Seymour to think of someone who deserves to be “plant food,” Seymour thinks of Orin Scrivello, the abusive dentist boyfriend of the love interest Audrey I. Now we have motivation: Seymour is to kill Orin and feed him to Audrey II, who will, in turn, give Seymour anything he wants.
“Finale (Don’t Feed The Plants)” (end of Act II) — Sums up the rest of the events. While it can be argued that the emotional climax of the entire show is when Audrey II kills and eats Audrey I and Seymour, this song wraps up the events of the show and, in a way, reiterates the point of the show: don’t let your emotions get the better of you, or else alien plants will take over America. Or something like that.
WHAT I LIKE:
- The doo-wop trio of Chiffon, Ronette, and Crystal is a great story-telling device, reminiscent of the Greek Chorus of ancient plays.
- This show is hilarious. The premise is just so absurd, and the film has many visual gags that can be easily missed if you don’t look out for them.
- Doo-wop is, like, the best type of music for cheesy musicals like this. The show never gets dark enough to warrant a “legit” ballad, so the overall mood of the show matches the style of music presented.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE:
- There’s so much to like about this show, that it’s tough to find something not to like. If I had to find something to critique, it would be that the characters are kind of dim. Like, almost too dim. It’s a little unbelievable that Seymour immediately jumps to the thought of “If blood makes it grow, it has to be my/human blood.” I mean, even in Sweeney Todd, Mrs. Lovett mentions using cats as meat in her pies. I don’t know, if I was Seymour, I probably would have tried stray animals in the streets before jumping to killing someone to feed my alien plant.