As previously tipped (See The Goss, 12 Dec 2006), the Menier Chocolate Factory’s revival of the gleefully gruesome 1982 musical comedy Little Shop of Horrors will transfer to the West End once it completes its sell-out season at the 150-seat Southwark venue at the end of this month. It re-opens on 12 March 2007 (previews from 6 March) at the West End’s 650-seat Duke of York’s theatre, where it’s initially booking until 2 June.

The original Menier cast – including Sheridan Smith, Paul Keating and Barry James – will reprise their performances in the West End, with one notable exception. TV impressionist Alistair McGowan (pictured), who made his musical debut last month, appearing alongside Judi Dench in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s adaptation of The Merry Wives of Windsor, which continues in Stratford-upon-Avon until 10 February – takes over from Jasper Britton as sadistic dentist Orin Scrivello.

Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s sci-fi spoof musical is loosely based on Roger Corman’s low-budget 1960 film, which was filmed in under a week and featured a young Jack Nicholson in a bit part. Nerdy orphan Seymour (Keating) works in Mr Mushnik’s Skid Row florist shop, along with girl of his dreams Audrey (Smith), who is dating Scrivello. After a solar eclipse, Seymour discovers a peculiar plant with a bloodthirsty appetite, which he names Audrey II. As his infatuation with the real Audrey grows, so does the plant.

The 1986 film version of the musical starred Rick Moranis as Seymour, Steve Martin as the dentist and Ellen Greene as Audrey, a role Greene originated on stage. Little Shop of Horrors was last seen in the West End at the Comedy Theatre, where it ran for two years from October 1983. In that premiere production, Barry James, now playing flower-shop owner Mushnik, starred as Seymour.

The Menier revival is directed by Matthew White (The Last Five Years) and designed by David Farley, whose set (with animator Timothy Bird) for the Menier’s last West End transfer, Sunday in the Park with George, scooped prizes at the Critics’ Circle and Evening Standard awards and has also been nominated in this year’s and Laurence Olivier Awards – one of the show’s six Olivier nominations announced this morning (See Today’s Other News). While most productions of the Menken musical have retained the same Venus Flytrap-style Audrey II, Farley has created a brand new plant, which is voiced by Mike McShane.

Other roles in Little Shop of Horrors are played by Jenny Fitzpatrick, Katie Kerr, Melitsa Nicola and Matthew Eames. The production has choreography by Lynne Page, musical supervision by Caroline Humphris, lighting design by Paul Anderson and sound design by Gareth Owen. It’s presented in the West End by Chocolate Factory Productions, along with co-producers Bob Boyett, Richard Frankel, Steve Baruch, Thomas Viertel, Marc Routh and Stephanie McClelland

Currently at the Duke of York’s, Trevor Nunn’s premiere production of Tom Stoppard’s latest play Rock 'n' Roll - nominated for four Olivier Awards today - finishes its extended season on 25 February, ahead of a planned transfer to Broadway in the autumn (See News, 5 Jan 2007). It currently stars Dominic West, Emma Fielding and David Calder.

- by Terri Paddock