Olivier Award-winner Clive Rowe (pictured) has temporarily replaced Mike McShane as Audrey II in the Menier Chocolate Factory’s Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Award-winning production of the sci-fi spoof Little Shop of Horrors at the Duke of York’s, due to a bereavement in McShane’s family.

Rowe joined the production last night (Monday 2 April 2007) and will play the carnivorous plant for two weeks, until 14 April 2007. Rowe, who is to star in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods at the Royal Opera House this summer (See News, 15 Mar 2007), was last seen on stage at the National Theatre in Caroline, Or Change, for which he was nominated in this year’s Whatsonstage.com Awards.

His extensive theatre CV also includes the musicals Carousel, Simply Heavenly, Chicago, Candide, Carmen Jones and Guys and Dolls (for which he won an Olivier for his role as Nicely Nicely Johnson in the National Theatre production). In Little Shop of Horrors, Rowe joins the original Menier cast (including Sheridan Smith, Paul Keating, and Barry James) and Alistair McGowan as sadistic dentist Orin Scrivello.

A spokesperson for the show said in a statement: “Owing to a bereavement in his family, Mike McShane will not be appearing in Little Shop of Horrors at the Duke of York’s Theatre for the next two weeks. The producers are delighted to announce that at very short notice Olivier Award Winner Clive Rowe… will be performing the role of the Audrey II, the Plant. Clive will perform this role from tonight until April 14th 2007.”

Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s musical is loosely based on Roger Corman’s popular low-budget 1960 film. 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 musical is directed by Matthew White and designed by David Farley. It’s produced 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.

- by Caroline Ansdell