Little Shop of Horrors (the Musical) / SDMB Musical debating society

Now what kind of nutcase would it take to make a musical out of a Roger Corman odd-ball black comedy? If you haven’t seen the 1960 original, don’t bother. It really is a lousy movie, shot in two days (and looks it!). But…. The transition to the stage and then back to film was an inspired bit of lunacy! Kudos to Frank Oz and David Geffen!
The plot: Set in Skid Row, a failing flower shop is run by a worn-down proprietor (Mushnik , played by Vincent Gardenia), assisted by an airhead (Audrey, played wonderfully by Ellen Greene) and a hapless, inept nerd (Seymour, played by Rick Moranis). On the verge of failure, the shop is rescued when Seymour stumbles across a strange little plant that brings in curious customers. The plant, named Audrey II, grows and thrives on human blood and flesh, supplied to it in secret by a reluctant Seymour. The plant talks, sings, and has a distinctly nasty personality as marvelously supplied by Levi Stubbs, one of the original Four Tops. The animatronic plant is a wonder in itself, as created by Frank Oz and his staff. So, the plant grows, eats, has Seymour in its thrall, and is apparently an alien creature bent on world domination.
What makes this film a winner is the hilarious, amazing score by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. This duo later moved on to Disney and provided the music for *The Little Mermaid * and Beauty and the Beast. The music is propelled along by a zany trio of 1950’s style girl singers acting as a sort of Greek Chorus (Da-Doo). Each one is named for a different girl group: Ronnette, Crystal, and Chiffon (Da-Doo). And let’s not forget Ellen Greene! When she opens up in “Suddenly Seymour” it is stunning! Who would ever think that such a little slip of a bubblehead had such an outstanding and powerful singing voice?
In transitioning from the off-Broadway hit to the screen version, some songs were left out. It really doesn’t matter, because what is left is superb, plus there is one song added – the big show-stopper “*Mean Green Mother (from Outer Space).” *
When I first saw this movie I was disappointed because it did not live up to the wonder of the stage production and had a different ending! Apparently, Frank Oz filmed the story as it appears on stage but test audiences hated the ending, they wanted a happy ending where the heroes lived happily ever after. Over the years I have come to accept this version as a separate and fulfilling style of bringing closure, but I still prefer the stage ending! I hear that there are pirate copies of Frank Oz’s original ending out there, but I have never seen it.
This musical continues to grow on me over the years and I place it among the top 5 in my personal list of faves.

I’m not a huge musical guy, but I LOVE this movie. We grew up with the videotape in our house–my family rented it over and over again, and I think we eventually bought it, years later. I know all the words (and music) to all the songs. Who would have thought RICK MORANIS would have such a good voice? I was overjoyed when I found a used DVD copy of it at GameStop for $5.99–probably bought by some teenager who traded it in because he thought musicals were “gay.” It is awesome, though: in my top four musicals, along with Chicago, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, and Singin’ In the Rain.

I like the musical, but I’d like to disagree about not bothering to see the movie. Sure it was made in two days, but if you take that into account – wow, is Roger Corman a genius or what. I see lots of movies that took a lot of time and money, but aren’t nearly as entertaining or clever.

Our local university performed LSOH this past fall. It was really neat to see it on stage, and the stage show, in case you weren’t aware, has a couple of songs that don’t appear in the movie version. Two that spring to mind are “Be My Son” sung by Mushnik to Seymour (the actor playing Mushnik did a great job, the song and dance were hilarious), and “Don’t Feed The Plants,” unless my memory is faulty and that one was actually in the movie. A good time was had by all.

Tough titties. :slight_smile:

“Don’t Feed the Plants” in there somewhere at the end, I believe over the closing credits along with “Mean Green Mutha from Outer Space”.

Oddly enough, I hauled that one out of the collection just the other day to listen to in the car on the way to work.
Great show - I just love it.

My first exposure to Little Shop of Horrors came when my high school produced it. I was aware that the directors made some changes to better reflect the demographics of those who tried out, but was taken by surprise and not particularly pleased when I saw the movie a decade later.

Changes I knew about:
Mushnick was female in our version.
There were more than three “doo-wop girls” and they were not all girls.
And I was vaguely aware that the ending was different (though I don’t remember what the ending to the stage version was).

Changes I didn’t know about:

The already mentioned"Be my Son" number runs through my head almost any time I think about Little Shop

The notion that Audrey keeps her job so that Mushnick can ogle her seems pretty inescapable in watching the movie, but not in our stage version. (One part change from Mr. to Mrs. Mushnick, one part less voluptuous actress, one part delibrate costuming choices)

The movie seemed terribly short and much more upsetting. (This may be a function of just how long ago my involvement with the stage version was).

And the number one most shocking change was “Where did all these minorities come from?”
The cast of the stage version with which I was involved (I auditioned and then helped paint sets) was almost completely white. The guy from whom Seymour bought the plant was Chinese by ethnicity and there may have been one black guy in the chorus. But, since my high school was almost completely white, this made sense. It never ocurred to me until I watched the movie the first time that Skid Row might be heavily populated with minorities. While I’m not sure that this affected my enjoyment of the movie, it did contribute to my sense of culture shock in watching it.

This musical is definitely in my top five list.

It’s funny, fun, and…

very moving (I know, sometimes people look at me weird when I say that).

Somewhere that’s Green has got to be one of the most tragic songs in musical theatre. I love it. Audrey is so incrediably sincere about her simplistic desires that it’s heart wrenching.

Great music all around, a quick and clever script, and visually exciting as well. Two thumbs up.

I just got to see this in NYC last spring, and I have to say that the production was underwhelming. The set was pretty neat, a sort of warped, comic-book-ish feel to it, but the woman who is playing Audrey (Kerry Butler, who played Shelly in Bat Boy, another of my favorite shows, and did a wonderful job with it) was painful to listen to. She was trying for some sort of accent when she spoke, but it came out to be this whiny, whispy, drawl with really long 'o’s that was hard to understand and was completely unnecessary. It kind of killed the show for me, sadly.

The DVD has got very interesting commentary tracks, as well.

I had such a crush on her after seeing this movie when it first came out! I was very disappointed that her career never really grew into something more than occasional minor roles in other films. (notably as Mathilda’s mother in Leon aka The Professional)

What a fun movie! I’ve only seen it once before, and that was probably eight or ten years ago. Also, I’ve never seen it on stage – so forgive my ignorance, what was the original ending? (I’ve seen the Roger Corman flick, but it’s probably been at least 20 years – all I remember is Jack Nicholson.)

The main thing that struck me was that this was far and away the stagiest of the movies we’ve watched in this series. There was no pretense that it was anything other than a movie musical. The artificiality is set up in the opening number, where we follow the three, graces? Do-woppers? members of the chorus? around the street and through the shop – a staging that was clearly based on the original theatrical presentation, but adapted to make use of the fact that it was a movie. Of course, there’s only so far you can go with naturalism, given the plot.

BBV Lou mentioned another striking element: what a good voice Rick Moranis has! I was pleasantly surprised.

Yup, it is. It is also in the soundtrack…

Good lord I love this movie! Anyone else notice Tisha Campbell and Tichina Arnold from the TV show “Martin” as two of the three doo wop girls? Love them all.

I have to agree with Two Trouts and Tangent . Ellen Greene is a marvel in this movie. She is the main reason for watching. Personally, my two favorite numbers are “Downtown” and “Somewhere That’s Green”. The quiet desperation in her voice does something to me.

This is an amazing coincidence (perhaps involving plants from outer space)! My kids were begging me to rent this movie, which they’d never seen, after they both got carnivorous plants. I finally found it for rent this weekend, and we watched it on Saturday night and yesterday afternoon. I’ve had a hankering to see the original Corman film ever since, and “Suddenly Seymour” has been running through my head all day.

If you can, listen to that and follow it up immediately by listening to Part of Your World

Still, it’s a great movie. You can keep singing the songs for weeks (not just Green, but also Downtown, Dentist, Mean Green Mother, and “Suddenly Seymour” is totally inspirational and just lifts you - “Seymour’s myyyyyyyyyy maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!”

Great choice!

They’re not actually pirate copies–the original commerical DVD release had an alternate track with a grainy black-n-white version of the original ending. Apparently someone involved (Geffen, maybe?) went apshit nuts and forced them to recall the DVD, but some got out–I was lucky enough to get one! You can actually find 'em on eBay for (last I checked) $75.00 or so. The original ending’s good, far better (and more honest, somehow) than the regular ending—but I don’t know that it’s worth $75.00!

Fenris

Heh–my info was waaay outta date–they go from $160-$202 now!

For some reason your post rang a bell. I gotta ask: Did you go to high school in SE Minnesota?

SE Minnesota? you could call it that. I tend to say “east of St. Paul”