The hit Off-Broadway revival of Little Shop of Horrors won the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama League Awards for Best Musical Revival in 2020, and it is still in full bloom as it continues to capture the hearts of audiences in its third florid year at The Westside Theatre. In honor of Valentine’s Day, NY1 entertainment journalist Frank DiLella compiled a list of reasons why he loves this Howard Ashman and Alan Menken classic.
1. The score.
Little Shop features a perfect musical-theater score, with hits such as “Suddenly Seymour,” “Somewhere That’s Green,” and, of course, the title song. The musical is written by Oscar- and Grammy–winning tunesmiths Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. Before the duo tackled Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin, they collaborated on the original production of Little Shop of Horrors, which debuted Off-Broadway in the early 1980s and became a phenomenon, running for five years and inspiring a hit film adaptation.
2. Musical-comedy gold.
Right now, theater audiences are particularly hungry for shows that will whisk them away with undiluted joy and laughter — and Little Shop delivers on that task. Ashman’s cast of characters includes one of the funniest roles written for the musical stage — Dr. Orin Scrivello, DDS! Two-time Tony winner Christian Borle originally donned the lab coat for this revival, and now it’s being worn by Tony nominee Bryce Pinkham. Pinkham plays the sadistic dentist, plus nine other characters in the show!
3. World-class talent in an intimate setting.
It’s rare to have a theater experience like this, where no seat is more than 50 feet from a man-eating plant — and award-winning vocal powerhouses! Ever since the musical opened, the Little Shop cast has been stacked with an incredible lineup of Tony and Emmy winners and nominees — from current stars Matt Doyle, Bryce Pinkham, and Brad Oscar, to past “Skid Row” luminaries Jonathan Groff, Christian Borle, Jeremy Jordan, Tammy Blanchard, Lena Hall, Rob McClure, Conrad Ricamora, Skylar Astin, and Gideon Glick.
4. And speaking of world-class talent: a new Audrey!
Euphoria star Maude Apatow is making her New York stage debut as the musical’s leading lady, Audrey. Seeing Little Shop of Horrors as a kid introduced Apatow to the world of musical theater, which, she says, “has been my greatest joy in life” ever since. Just you wait till you hear her take on “Somewhere That’s Green.”
5. A theater great is at the helm.
This production is directed by Tony Award winner Michael Mayer, who certainly knows a thing or two about presenting a hit musical. He’s currently represented on Broadway with two audience favorites — Funny Girl with Lea Michele and A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical. Plus, his Broadway résumé includes the original Spring Awakening, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
6. The best singers in New York City!
Inspired by the girl groups of the 1960s, the street urchins of Little Shop are vocal goddesses. D’Kaylah Unique Whitley plays Ronnette, Tiffany Renee Thompson plays Crystal, and Khadija Sankoh plays Chiffon. From the show’s start, the ladies — with their pitch-perfect harmonies — are your narrators for the night, and they take you to musical-theater heaven.
7. Finally …the biggest bang for your buck!
This show picked up every major Best Revival of a Musical award in its debut season, beating out a lot of Broadway competition. With this revival, you have a Tony Award–winning, Broadway-caliber creative team and company at Off-Broadway ticket prices. I promise you won’t be disappointed. So go ahead and feed the plants at the Westside Theatre.
Photos by Caitlin McNaney, Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade, and Emilio Madrid.
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