Quote of the Day: On the twenty-third day in 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 most seemingly innocent, and unlikely, of places… Howard Ashman, Little Shop of Horrors musical, voice-over on stage at the Guthrie Theater by Paul Allen (Voice of the Minnesota Vikings, and a “Voice, Not Unlike God” in the show). Book and lyrics by Howard Ashman. Music by Alan Menken.

Will Roland (Seymour Krelborn), and company in the Guthrie Theater’s production of Little Shop of Horrors. Photo: Dan Norman

The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN is staging a fantastic production of the cult-classic, horror-comedy-musical Little Shop of Horrors. What began as a low-budget B-movie by Roger Corman and screenplay by Charles Griffith from the 1960’s, featuring a very young Jack Nicholson, has turned into a huge success as a musical from Broadway to high school theaters. I’ve seen it several times in various theaters. I loved the 1986 movie musical starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, and Steve Martin as the sadistic dentist, and I watched the 1960’s black & white film the night before seeing the Guthrie’s production. (It’s a kick.) The music is catchy, the characters quirky, and the monster is a man-eating plant, possibly from outer-space. What’s not to love?

Will Roland (who originated the role of Jared Kleinman in the Broadway hit Dear Evan Hansen) is playing the lovable, if bumbling, Seymour Krelborn. Seymour works for Mr. Mushnik (Robert Dorfman) in his floral shop on Skid Row. It’s in danger of closing, but Seymour saves the day, and the store, by cultivating a new plant from seeds he bought from a Chinese man on another sketchy street. The plant, which he names Audrey II, after his crush Audrey, thrives on blood. 

Will Roland (Seymour Krelborn) and China Brickey (Audrey) in the Guthrie Theater’s production of Little Shop of Horrors. Photo: Dan Norman

China Brickey is delightful as Audrey, a tragic character, who is both funny and sad. She’s mixed up with a sadistic dentist, Orin (played by the multi-talented David Darrow). Seymour will do anything to help Audrey out of her abusive relationship with Orin, and hopefully win her heart. In order to to this, he has to keep the plant alive.

Erica Durham (Chiffon), Vie Boheme (Ronnette), and Gabrielle Dominique (Crystal) in the Guthrie Theater’s production of Little Shop of Horrors. Photo: Dan Norman

Helping to tell the story are the three street “urchins” (or maybe aliens) who sing, narrate, and provide back-up. They are Erica Durham as Chiffon, Gabrielle Dominique as Crystal, and Vie Boheme as Ronnette. They were marvelous, lovely blend to their voice, and eye-popping costumes! They sang from a car seeming to float in the sky above Skid Row to peeking through the windows of the floral shop. (Costumes designed by Sully Ratke were out of this world terrific!)

T. Mychael Rambo plays a street denizen and the voice of Audrey II. His deep voice resonates, evoking both laughter and terror as he sings, “Feed me, Seymour! Feed me all night long.” He has the perfect voice for Audrey II. Audrey II is a plant/puppet. We watch it grow on stage. Yvonne Freese is the puppeteer who gets to do all the creepy dance moves inside the wicked plant. 

The rest of the actors play multiple roles from Denizens of the streets to costumers at Mushnik’s Floral Shop: Time Brickey, David Darrow, Yvonne Freese, Kiko Laurmeano, and Joey Miller.

David Darrow (Orin) and Will Roland (Seymour Krelborn) in the Guthrie Theater’s production of Little Shop of Horrors. Photo: Dan Norman

Denise Prosek conducts the live orchestra, playing above the street behind the music shop windows. Fun to see glimpses of them, and what I believe are Jason Hansen’s hands on the keyboard! Joe Cruz on guitar/mandolin, Greg Angel on Bass, and Josh Carlson on percussion. They were fantastic. Such a fun score, with a 1960’s rock beat, and few endearing ballads. One of my favorite Broadway songs in “Somewhere That’s Green” sung by Audrey (and China nailed it), and the companion song “Suddenly Seymour”, sung by Seymour, Audrey, Chiffon, Crystal, and Ronnette. All of the singers are fantastic. Darrow also really kills it as the sadistic dentist, from his powerful operatic voice to his evil laugh.

The set, designed by Lex Liang, is spectacular. So much attention to detail. It looks like a Skid Row street, debris in the corners, trash cans, interesting store fronts, and a car hanging from the rafters! The shop opens up and slides out for scenes inside Mushnik’s. As with many Guthrie Theater productions, the set/show offers many surprises. So, keep your eyes open! The lighting design by Allen Lee Hughes gets more mystical as the show progresses. Sound design by Matt Kraus. Puppet Design by Chris Lutter. 

Little Shop of Horrors is a favorite of mine and my companion Joanna. We might have done a little chair dancing during the show, but we restrained ourselves from singing along! (I am, however, humming the tunes as I write this review.) Director and choreographer Marcia Milgrom Dodge has assembled a stellar cast for this show. They are all outstanding performers. I hope to see it again before it closes August 18. 

You can see Little Shop of Horrors at the Guthrie Theater through August 18, 2024. (Relaxed performances, audio described and ASL interpreted performances available on select dates.)

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: Do you like old movies? What’s your favorite genre? How many times have you seen “Little Shop of Horrors?”