“Little Shop of Horrors” Cast to Appear at Play

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On Thursday, January 27 at 11 p.m. Play Dance Club, Out & About Newspaper, and TPAC will host a meet and greet with members of the cast of the cult-hit musical Little Shop of Horrors.

Admission to the event will be the normal Thursday cover charge of $5 with part of the proceeds going to benefit Nashville CARES. While it has been unconfirmed if cast members will actually perform it has been established that there will be a short presentation by the puppet team for the show. 

Cast member James Moye who portrays Orin, the villainous boyfriend spoke with O&AN recently about his role in the classic production.                                                      

“It’s been very interesting,” said Moye. “There are so many people who are fans of the musical and the movie and have certain ideas and such high expectations for its production. Sometimes we have had people who love the show especially on the scale that we produce it and sometimes they hate it completely, but there is very little in-between.”

For the sadly uninitiated, Little Shop (as its adherents refer to the off-kilter musical) is not your run-of-the-mill Broadway musical. In it’s own way, it is in a class all by itself. Little Shop of Horrors opened in May of 1982. Its modesty of size, not to mention its wonderfully off-handed comic book tone, disguised the extraordinary achievement of its authors, Howard Ashman (book and lyrics) and Alan Menken (music).

There had been previous rock musicals, and musicals like Grease, that exploited the nostalgia for classic oldies. There had even been a film, George Lucas’ American Graffiti, which used classic rock on its soundtrack as an ironic counterpoint to events of the story. But no one up to this time had written a completely theatrical score – in the classic, Rodgers and Hammerstein sense – in the oldie-rock idiom.

The very idea seems counter-intuitive; classic rock was a beat and a hook and a repeated lyric. Nothing, on its face, could be less dramatic. But Ashman and Menken took the form and refashioned it into pure theatre music.

“One of the most challenging things for me,” Moye elaborated, “has been the difference in response to the humor from city to city as we tour. My character especially is very foul-mouthed and abusive. Some places like LA were very receptive and laughed heartily while places like Salt Lake City didn’t find me funny at all. Plus, some of the humor that could be derived from abusive relationships 20 years ago is not always as funny to some audiences now. It was something that I really had to grow through because the first few times that I got crickets from an entire audience I thought it was because I was screwing up the lines. But I have come to learn that one of the great challenges of participating with live theatre is to be able to take the journey every night with the audience. Some nights it’s like a rock concert and others there is nothing”   

In its new Broadway production, the level of that achievement is clear. Little Shop features clever pop parodies, like the uproarious “Dentist!” but it also contains extraordinarily funny, smart and completely dramatic musical scenes written in the soul-shouter idiom Motown-style. In addition there is the prototypical pop/rock theatre power ballad, “Suddenly Seymour,” which set a standard that has yet to be surpassed. Menken mined old rock ‘n’ roll clichés for this show, but he also featured his own distinctive musical voice, which shone through the fabric of pastiche. The result is that there’s hardly an unmemorable phrase in the entire score. A piece that has evolved from a new and innovative piece of work to being a staple of musical theatre, Little Shop of Horrors is definitely a must see for theatre-goers.

Little Shop of Horrors will run January 25-30, 2005 at TPAC’s Jackson Hall. For more information or to purchase tickets call 255-ARTS or visit TPAC on the web at www.tpac.org. Tickets are also available at any Ticketmaster location.