Still celebrating the five Laurence Olivier wins for its last West End transfer – of Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George (See News, 18 Feb 2007) – the Menier Chocolate Factory set its hit revival of Little Shop of Horrors up at the West End’s 650-seat Duke of York’s theatre last night (12 March 2007, previews from 6 March) following a sell-out run at its 150-seat Southwark home.

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For Whatsonstage.com TV, we were on hand for the curtain call at the Duke of York’s Theatre and the post-show party at the 50 Club, St James. Our TV interviewees include: cast members Alistair McGowan, Sheridan Smith, Paul Keating, Mike McShane and Barry James, director Matthew White, producer and Menier Chocolate Factory artistic director David Babani, and first night guests including Maria Friedman, Norman Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch and Natalie Casey (who co-starred with Sheridan Smith in TV’s Two Pints of Lager (and a Packet of Crisps)).

The original Menier cast – including Sheridan Smith, Paul Keating, Barry James and Mike McShane – reprise their performances in the West End, with one notable exception. TV impressionist Alistair McGowan, who made his musical debut in December, appearing alongside Judi Dench in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s adaptation of The Merry Wives of Windsor – has taken 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 (McGowan). 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 (voiced by McShane).

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 and designed by David Farley. 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.

- by Terri Paddock


** DON’T MISS our Whatsonstage.com Outing to LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS on 5 April 2007 - including a FREE programme & access to our post-show reception with the cast - all for just £27.50!! - click here for more details! **