The dark, sinister musical Little Shop of Horrors has been called a metaphor for politics, religion, marriage (and a few other sacred or semisacred institutions) that sends the message, "the more it gets, the more it wants." • Others take it at face value: a savagely funny black comedy with terrific rock, doo-wop and Motown tunes, hilarious characters, and a constantly surprising story.
The Gilbert and Sullivan Players open their version of the show Saturday at Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center and continue Sunday and Nov. 13 and 14.
In it, the nerdy Seymour Krelborn (Keith Surplus, title role in Li'l Abner, Cornelius in Hello, Dolly! at Richey Suncoast Theatre) and the pretty, but rather dense, Audrey (Jenny Henkel) are co-workers at Mushnik's Skid Row Florists, a run-down flower shop owned and operated by the crotchety Mr. Mushnik (Danny Lennox).
Seymour secretly adores Audrey, but she seems to only have eyes for the biker Orin (John Fudens), a sadistic dentist who revels in torturing his patients and beating up Audrey (Dentist!).
One day, Seymour goes to a plant show and buys a strange-looking plant that suddenly appeared during an unexpected eclipse of the sun. Its beauty prompts him to name it Audrey II, in honor of his beloved.
Even though Seymour pampers the plant, it wilts and looks on the verge of dying, until by accident, Seymour pricks his finger on the thorn of the rose and the blood drops into the plant's bud. The plant begins to grow, and Seymour realizes it needs blood to survive.
As Seymour sacrifices his own blood, Audrey II (Clint Shepherd) grows to outlandish proportions and, of course, attracts the attention of the media. Before long, Seymour is famous (Ya Never Know).
Audrey comes to work one day with a black eye from boyfriend Orin and shyly admits she has feelings for Seymour and even dreams of living with him in a tract house, with frozen dinners and plastic on the furniture (Somewhere That's Green).
After Audrey leaves, Audrey II starts trash-talking and convinces Seymour he must kill Orin (the plant just wants a good meal). From there, Seymour stays in a quandary that leads to even more fame, temptation and horrifying unintended consequences.
The action is narrated by a trio of Motown-style singers, Ronnette (Tara Hilderbrandt), Crystal (Analise Barone) and Chiffon (Shelby Carmichael). Audrey II began life in the shops of CBC Creative/Universal Studios.
Little Shop of Horrors started out in 1960 as a low-budget film directed by Roger Corman and was made into an off-Broadway stage musical in 1982 with music by Alan Menken and book by Howard Ashman. It played for five years and was adapted as a new movie musical in 1986, starring Rick Moranis as Seymour and Steve Martin as Dr. Orin, with Bill Murray as his masochistic patient.
The show made its Broadway debut in 2003 and ran for more than a year, then went on a national tour for almost two years, had a revival in London in 2006 and began touring the UK in 2008.